Remembering Gloria's life

IN MEMORIAM: Trevor Thomas and Gloria Thomas in 2008.

IN MEMORIAM: Trevor Thomas and Gloria Thomas in 2008.

Gloria Thomas was born at Whyalla hospital during the height of World War Two, to Laurel (nee Lamshed) and Sydney (Syd) Haynes and Gloria was elder to her sister Joy.

They both attended Whyalla South Primary School (now Memorial Oval Primary School) and later Whyalla Technical High (now Whyalla High School), and Peters Street Methodist Church, now Uniting Church. Both girls played Hockey.

Father Syd was Overseer at the Whyalla Town Commission at the time and older residents may remember reading his regular reports to the Commission in the Whyalla News.

Mr Charles Ryan was the Commission Chairman. Every Friday afternoon during hockey season Syd mowed the hockey field in Wilsdon Street with his 15 inch Victa mower until dark and was on the job again at first light Saturday morning to finish the mowing and mark the field.

Gloria was an accomplished hockey player starting with High School then Checkers and was poached by Wyloos. She played with Whyalla representative teams and was selected in the State training squad in Adelaide.

However, the commute to training was five hours and Gloria never played in a State match. She used to play back half and although she was only five foot two (157cm) was a bundle of energy and the proverbial mobile brick wall.

Gloria was first and foremost a teacher and as South Australia was critically short of teachers at the end of the 1950s the Education Department encouraged high school graduates to do a one year teacher training course at Wattle Park in Adelaide.

Gloria started teaching at Nicolson Ave Infant school in Whyalla when she was 17 years old, four days before her 18th Birthday and after four years she was so accomplished as a Primary teacher that she was asked by the state schools inspector to move to Adelaide and be a Demonstration teacher.

She had to refuse because she said she was engaged to be married, and she would be living in Malaysia.

Gloria married Trevor Thomas who was born and educated in Whyalla, worked for BHP as a Commercial Trainee, then trained to be a RAAF pilot.

He flew F86 Sabre, Mirage 111 and Macchi jet aircraft and was a member of the RAAF Roulettes formation aerobatic team, which flew into Whyalla on 11th June 1973.

Whyalla News published a large article and photo of the team when they refuelled in Whyalla prior to performing a display at the opening of a new hangar at Port Pirie.

Gloria taught at a private school on Penang Island and then the RAAF school, returned home with a 4 month old baby (Jason) and had a break from teaching while she gave birth to Darren and later Sonia in Newcastle NSW.

Prior to the third birth she really longed for a girl and when the birthing nurse announced "it's a girl" Gloria famously said "Aren't I clever".

When the children were 2, 4 and 6 Gloria became the principal and only teacher at the RAAF kindergarten at East Sale and after moving to Sydney and later Canberra she taught at several Catholic schools.

She studied at the Catholic teachers college in Sydney and gained her Diploma in teaching and graduated with a B Ed from Canberra University in the same year Sonia graduated at ANU.

The 20th anniversary of the Moon landing in 1989 was the subject of the major project Gloria set for her Grade 6 class at St Matthews School in Page ACT.

Gloria used the project to teach history, geography, measurement, arithmetic, physics, english, and spelling; what is a Lunar Rendezvous, and how do you spell it.

In 1992 Gloria needed a new challenge and so she retired from teaching and purchased an education consulting practice.

In 23 years she personally helped about 10,000 clients, all and sundry, children whose parents saw them as being gifted at 4 years old but could not learn to read when 7; a 19 year old indigenous TAFE student who could drive the fork lift perfectly but could not pass the written exam. After seeing Gloria they overcame their problems.

She ran Irlen Screener training courses in NSW, Victoria and Tasmania and taught teachers and other professionals to identify visual perceptual disorders caused by a genetic mid brain timing imbalance which can be greatly assisted by Irlen coloured lenses or overlays.

She was sought by Dr. Paul Whiting, acting Dean of the Education Faculty at Sydney University and before she retired, Gloria was granted Life Membership of the Association of Australiasian Irlen Consultants for her services to the Association.

Gloria wrote reports into the night nearly every night. She was a very hard worker. She travelled to many countries and attended many international conferences in order to keep her professional knowledge up to date and collaborate with Irlen consultants in other countries.

Amazingly, grandson Cody, just back from Dublin Ireland after playing hockey there for a season, commuted to Adelaide from Sydney on 24th July (the day she passed away) to qualify for selection in the SA state team Adelaide Fire. If he is selected to play for Adelaide Fire he will achieve Gloria's hockey objective.

Gloria proudly flew to Lucknow in India three years ago to see Cody's older brother, grandson Ash, play as Australia's Goalie in the Junior World cup Hockey competition between 16 nations.

Ash hopes to be a Kookaburra after the Tokyo Olympics. Grandson Noah doesn't play hockey as he is now 12 years old and 6 feet tall so he plays basketball.

Gloria loved her garden, sewing, knitting, cooking and swapping recipes. She loved racing in the Boomaroo 22 (Catalina) trailer-sailer back in the 80s, when we trailed it all the way from Sydney to compete in the 1980 Tripolis (Port Augusta -Port Pirie-Whyalla that year).

She enjoyed that we were second in class on the first leg to Port Pirie.

Gloria played the piano, sang with her Dad and in Choirs, she conducted two separate choirs at Kippax Uniting Church, adults and children's, and once combined the two and had the children leading in soprano with the adults backing. She was a true Christian.

She died in Melbourne of Uterine Cancer and is survived by husband Trevor, children Jason, Darren and Sonia, daughter in law Donna, son in law Lloyd, grandchildren Ashleigh (Ash), Cody and Noah and sister Joy Townsend.