Flags were flown at half mast in Winton last month to honour the late Jean O'Connell, a pioneer of the district.
Jean Margaret Lindsay was born January 22, 1926 to James Hastie and Madge Cummins Lindsay.
She was the first child delivered in the then-new maternity wing of the Winton hospital, the oldest of a family of three, two years ahead of her brother Bill and another four years to her sister, Alison.
They grew up at Camara, north of Winton in the company of ponies and poddy lambs.
Jean's early schooling was via the Primary Correspondence School before four years away at boarding school.
In her own words, she couldn't wait to get home, and was fifteen-and-a-half-years-old when she left school to return home to teach her sister Alison, then in Grade 6, before she went to boarding school in her turn.
In 1946, whilst visiting her mother's relatives in South Australia, she met her future husband, John O'Connell, marrying him in 1948.
While in Adelaide, Jean completed a maternal and child welfare qualification and she became the mobile adviser on a circuit from Norseman to Esperance and back, while they were in Western Australia.
They spent the next four years at Norseman, where John worked in a gold mine and where her first two sons, Jim and Rod, were born.
The young family then returned to Camara for about 18 months, before moving to another family property, Bogewong, south of Longreach.
After about four years there, they returned to Camara and took over the ownership and management of it. By this time the family was complete with the addition of Dick, Helen and Ken.
They took the good seasons with the bad. During the late 1960s drought, John and Jean, plus Jim and Ken and Ken's governess, went with their last 3000 sheep down to Planet, an out-station of Arrabury-Mt Leonard near the South Australian border.
They stayed there for three-and-a-half months until mid-December 1969, shepherding the sheep between wire netting breaks that were erected about 8 kilometres apart.
They often had to camp out with the sheep rather than going back to the out-station and had to contend with a lot of dingoes and a severe rat plague.
Things were pretty tough, and they took Dick out of school early, when he was in Grade 9. Thankfully, it rained about a week after they brought the sheep home.
A feature of Jean's life was that she identified newcomers to the district and made an effort to make them feel welcome. Tennis days at Camara were often enjoyed, where newcomers were regularly invited.
Common themes told by those celebrating a life well lived at her funeral were Jean's love of family, commitment to Winton, love of bush poetry and service to others.
One of her lifelong interests was the QCWA, over the years serving as Winton branch president, vice-president and treasurer.
In the days of the Winton QCWA Student Hostel, she served as committee member and chairman.
For a number of years, on behalf of CWA, Jean coordinated a series of very successful community fairs under the banner of 'Matilda's Mirror', and was a persuasive community supporter for the building of Diamantina Gardens.
She and her family were all keen tennis players and she was heavily involved in the Winton District Tennis Association.
Jean and John were for many years the driving force behind the annual local age tennis championships for people aged under 19 years.
Jean and her family bred and raced many good horses and have been strong supporters of the Western Picnic and Tower Hill Race Clubs, and the North Gregory and Corfield professional clubs.
She served as secretary of the Western Picnic Race Club for 10 years.
She was also involved with the Isolated Children's Parents' Association and the 1988 bicentennial committee, and was patron of the Winton District Historical Society and Museum Incorporated.
As a member of the Qantas Founders Museum, Jean always promoted cooperation between the various participants in the Qantas story.
For years, she assisted at the annual Waltzing Matilda Junior Bush Poetry competition for children.
Following the opening of the Waltzing Matilda Centre in 1998, Jean was an active proponent for having a Channel Country exhibition at the centre, and made a number of contributions towards achieving that.
A hallmark of Jean's involvement was her constructive and practical approach to community activities, with the emphasis on cooperation.
Young people's participation in, and responsibility for, projects is something she always encouraged.
As a measure of the Winton community's appreciation of Jean's active participation, she twice received Winton's Senior Citizen award on Australia Day, in 1987 and again in 2002.
In later life Jean often lamented her old age, particularly encroaching memory loss, and spent her last seven years very well cared for in the Pioneers' Home in Longreach.
Her graveside service was conducted by Leisa Fraser, and family and friends celebrated a life well lived.
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