Irma Irene Martin– 1916 – 2013

MARTIN, Irma Irene. February 25, 2013 Late of Ashfield. Loving daughter and only child of Horace and Mabel Martin. Aged 96 Years.
A Very Kind and Good Lady.

Such was the announcement of the passing of my mother’s cousin Irma, at the time a resident of the Cardinal Freeman Village in Ashfield. Sadly, and I do feel guilty about this, I had not been in touch for a few years now, but in the period especially from my mother’s death in 1996 through the early 2000s I did see a lot of Irma. She had a very nice room at that complex and was very happy there. I gather that in the past few years she was in the nursing home accommodation in the same complex and had fallen at last to old age’s saddest aspects.

Irma was indeed a good kind lady. Without her life would have been much harder for my parents – and for me – in the years from my father’s long difficulties and death (1974-1989) and my mother’s last years and death. In an old-fashioned phrase, Irma was simply a brick. She enabled the funerals of both my parents for a start.

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Irma was born on 21 August 1916, her parents being Horace Martin, a teacher, (1887-1970) and Mabel Martin, nee Hunter (1888-1966). Ada Hunter, Mabel’s sister, was married to Roy Christison, thus my mother’s father and mother. That is the Hunter family above with my mother and her brother Eric (with the boat) next to the pram. It would not be impossible that Irma is the one in the pram but it may also be my mother’s sister Beth.

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That is from The Canberra Times in 1948. You will see that Ainslie School, where Uncle Horace was founding Headmaster, was opened in September 1927 – old Parliament House (above) was in May 1927 – and that Irma was the first girl student there.

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The opening of Ainslie School – from the school’s web page

Irma did talk a bit about her memories of Canberra. She can’t have been there long as she is next heard of in Taree in 1928, doing even then a typical Irma thing: remembering the people in her life.

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Uncle Horace ended up retiring from Glebe in April 1951.  The tennis player Lew Hoad – a legend in the game — was a student there at that time.

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I note that G D Martin was Director of Child Welfare in NSW in 1940. That would have been interesting.

I first remember Horace, Mabel and Irma living in a splendid Federation house in Tintern Road, Ashfield. This one is in Tintern Road, but is not the one as Irma sold to developers after her father’s death and moved into a block of units pretty much on the site of her former house. I can remember being in that unit one Christmas soon after Irma moved in.

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On growing older, Irma downsized some time in the 1990s, moving to Cardinal Freeman Village, though not a Catholic. She was a stalwart of Ashfield Uniting Church, quite famous in Sydney thanks to the work of Bill Crews and the Exodus Foundation. In fact I spoke to Bill Crews about Irma only a few years ago when he visited South Sydney Uniting Church.

Irma never married and devoted much of her life to looking after her parents. However, she also had a career in the city about which she rarely talked. In fact Irma hardly ever talked about herself.

Kind and good she surely was.