Marjorie Kelly 1921 -2014



Marge (left) with friendMarge was born Marjorie Smith in Willoughby in 1921 and in her childhood and teenage years lived an idyllic life at Watsons Bay, very close to Camp Cove beach (“Campie”). In her early school days she walked to school along the foreshores of Watsons Bay and on to Vaucluse Primary School. Weekend fun included swimming at the “Bogie Hole”, a roughly cut swimming pool in the harbour side rocks near Camp Cove.

In her secondary school years, she caught the tram from the terminus near Camp Cove into a girl’s secondary school in Darlinghurst.  During these years the students were able to observe the two arches Harbour Bridge coming together at close quarters from their school grounds. After leaving school she worked as a seamstress at a City firm, again catching the tram from Camp Cove: invariably running late, the tram conductors gave her the nickname of “the road runner”. During her teenage years Marge and her cousin Sylvia often went dancing at The Trocadero in the City.

Around the time that World War II started, Marge met her future husband, Jack, when he was assigned to the military barracks at South Head. They married at St. Peters church at Watsons Bay in October 1941 and spent their honeymoon in the Blue Mountains staying at the Hydro Majestic Hotel in Medlow Bath. Not long after that, Jack was posted to New Guinea where he spent most of the war. Marge volunteered for war work and workHonymoon in Blue Mountainsed at the Beaufort Bomber factory in Sydney.

Jack and Marge’s first child was born towards the end of World War II, when Marge was still living with her parents. After Jack was discharged from the army in 1945 they made the bold decision to move to Caringbah which at that time was mostly bushland, but it was their only option if they were to eventually own their own home.  After renting a cottage in Regatta Avenue for a short they made the decision to buy a block of land in nearby Port Hacking Road.  At the time building materials were very scarce and you had to “know somebody” in order to obtain building material such as timber, tiles etc.; luckily Jack was in the building trade and had a few connections. Jack and Marge first built a “temporary” dwelling followed by a full size house (both buildings are still standing). By this time their second child had arrived.

Marge and Jack lived in the “house that Jack built” for many years and in 1955 their third child was born. Around this time Jack decided to try his hand at retailing and they bought a small store at Shelly Beach near Cronulla. By 1959 Jack realised he was not cut out for retailing and resumed his career in the building trade and moving back to Caringbah. Marge always handled the family finances and helped out by taking on part time work whenever she could. Life was not easy, but Marge staunchly held the family together and was a totally devoted wife and mother.

With great grandchildren on 90th birthdayAfter Jack retired they were able to manage a few overseas trips and enjoyed many hours on Botany Bay in their little tinnie catching flathead by the dozen. They often relaxed at the Caringbah RSL club, where Jack was a very early member.

The arrival of a new grandchild or great grandchild was a big occasion for Marge, she never forgot their birthdays and they could count on a card in the mail with the customary $5 note. When Jack became ill and was in hospital, Marge was a daily visitor and carer, often walking long distances every day.

After Jack passed away in 2005, Marge continued as the family matriarch, she had a special place in her heart for a couple of the more mischievous great grandchildren. She always looked forward to the occasional glass of beer and the odd flutter on the poker machines at the SUS club on Sundays.

Marge’s passing marks the end of an era, as all of her siblings and cousins have also passed away.
Marge Kelly was a gentle lady with a heart of gold, pioneer of Sutherland Shire and devoted wife, mother, grandmother and great grandmother.