Cockshell Mary Margaret

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Fast Facts
Type of person Individual
Date of birth 1937
Place of birth Loxton Hospital South Australia

Date of death 2024
Place of decease Calvary Trevu, Gawler East

Eulogy for Mary Margaret Cockshell 13th May 2024

We come together today to pay our last respects and to celebrate a very special lady….our loving Mum, Sister, Aunty, Grandma and friend. The family would like to thank you all for attending and we appreciate those who have travelled some distance to be here. We would also like to recognize and pass on our special thanks to the amazing staff and carers at Calvary Trevu who looked after Mum for last 6.5 years. Mum was a bit of a character in their eyes and they were very fond of her. Mum’s story starts with her name:

Mary Margret Cockshell, born 7th Nov 1937 in Loxton hospital, the first child of Cyril Arthur Cockshell and wife Dympna Teresa Cockshell. They lived on the family farm growing cereal crops and running sheep at Nadda (south of Loxton). Mary the eldest child to younger sister Elaine and about a decade later brothers Raymond and David.

Mum was extremely proud of her family and their farming heritage and often shared fond memories of her younger years, there was hard work but also fun times shared with her brothers and sister. Mary’s great personal loves growing up were reading and learning, school and music her most passionate. She was a big advocate of the saying ‘practice makes perfect’ a principle she applied to mastering the piano. Mary passed her first grade Australian Music Examination Board exam age 14 and continued playing most of her adult life. Growing up as kids we always had either the pianola belting out tunes, John Denver/Nana Mascurie/The Seekers playing on the cassette player or Mum playing beautiful Fur Elise by Beethoven on the piano, her favourite.

Mary loved the farm but was very disappointed when she had to leave school in her early teen years so she could help on the farm and take care of her younger siblings. The family moved to Fords in 1951, an area between Freeling and Kapunda to continue broad acre cropping and livestock (sheep and cattle). The family later moved to Gawler in 1956 where they bred Friesian dairy cattle. Their homestead and land known as Hemaford Friesian Stud on what is now the residential Cockshell Estate in Gawler East.

In Feb 1954, Mary left the family home for Cabra Catholic College in the city and went on the study nursing, graduating at Calvary Hospital North Adelaide in 1959. Mary loved this period in her life and some of the nurses she trained with at Calvary remained special lifelong friends. She often talked about the fun they had attending many dances and the mischief they got up to…which included one time being locked out of her Calvary’s boarding quarters for arriving home too late and missing the curfew. It wasn’t long after this that Mary met William John Peacock on a boat cruise between Adelaide and Perth. Mary and John later married in this actual church (St Peter & Paul) in 1960 and move to their first home in Medindie and then to their new home in Seaview Down. Mary continued working as a nurse at a number of metropolitan hospitals for several years until along came Stephen in December 1965, then Louise in 1967 and the twins Paul & Frank in 1969. Mary and John adopted four children and fair to say at this time they had their hands full. If they were not busy enough they then decided to buy a business and move to Myponga, south of Adelaide.

They purchased the Myponga General Store in the main street opposite the beautiful reservoir and the (back then) fully operating regional milk factory. It was much more than a General Store, it was a supermarket, hardware store, post office and variety hub servicing the town and rural farming community. It was hard work, long hours and store opened 7 days a week…so after nearly a decade it was time to sell up and do something different.

moving to Gawler in 1977. It was around this time that Mary began volunteering with the Gawler Agricultural, Horticulural and Floricultural Show Society and she was also appointed a Justice of the Peace. Both interests, following in her much loved Dad Cyril’s footsteps, they often attended committee meetings and court proceedings together. Her involvement with the show society was extensive over many years, initially as an Exhibitor and Steward in 1977 then joining the Show Society Executive Committee in 1978 holding various positions through to the late 90’s. Some years taking on multiple roles at the same time, Public Relations Officer for 3 years, Promotions & Entertainment for 3 years, Publicity Officer for 4 years, Craft Fair Convener 3 years, ran various sub-committees such as the Historical Celebrations & Displays, the Gawler Show Girl Competition & Dinner and Indoor Sections Convener.

Mary was also a very active exhibitor at the show herself, winning many place awards and merits for her handicrafts, gardening and produce entries. I think the biggest shock she ever got was receiving a prestigious Rosette for the Best Exhibit in the open produce category. She won this for her homemade meat brawn entry and her photo featured in the local paper. She was absolutely blown away with award because she honestly believed she couldn’t cook! Anyone who ever tried her famous Tuna Mornay or Peppermint Slice knows that simply isn’t true.

Mary was made a Life Member of the Gawler Show Society in August 1991. In parallel (and if not busy enough), Mary followed her passion and love for historical research and joined forces with Mark Boon and Craig Barnet from the local paper ‘The Bunyip’ and together they launched a book: “An Illustrated History of the Gawler Show 1854-1981” released to coincide with the 125th Anniversary Gawler Show in 1981. The book was researched by Mary and prepared and written by Mark and Craig. This book a mini version of the unpublished 900 page typed compilation extracted from Society minutes, letters and newspaper articles collected over 100+ years. The collection took 12 months to compile initially but Mary’s research continued on for many many years, becoming her passion and most favourite thing to do in her spare time.

Mary was also the Co-Chairman of the family Cockshell Publication Committee (together with her cousin John Cockshell) who both worked tirelessly with many other Cockshell Family Reunion Committee members to author and release the Cockshell Family History book in 1986. The book was launched to coincide with the Cockshell Family Reunion in March of the same year, an official South Australian Jublilee 150 event.

Mary’s research contributions are stored in historical libraries and all over the internet, extracts and photos marked with her trademark handwritten comments dates and references, as well as notes of appreciation for the content shared from Mary Cockshell’s Private Collection.

Did I mention she had 4 kids? To make ends meet and support us she took on part-time work at the Bunyip Office as the paper and publications Lead Proof-Reader (leveraging her WordSmith skills) and she did this for many years. She also took on paid assignments and spent endless hours in the evenings typing up final year Thesis for university students completing their Masters on her super doper wiz-bang electric typewriter.

Mary loved learning and creating, this included taking pottery and woodwork classes, she made lots of pots for the garden and most of our bedroom furniture. She learnt bookbinding and took on many tasks to restore old books and historical volumes, a new craft she later shared with others by running teaching classes for adults and school students.

Socially she loved going out with close friends to the Barossa Vintage Festival events, dinners and dances, often leaving the house all dressed up with picnic basket in hand (full of cheeses, nibbles to share and of course a special bottle of wine or trusty port). Mary loved games nights, particularly playing cards (Canasta, Samba, name it) and she was a fierce Scrabble player. Her brothers and sister can attest to this with her competitive ‘win at all costs’ determination, even if it meant making a word up and then desperately trying to find it in the scrabble bible (the Oxford dictionary), which was always close by. There were many long sessions enjoyed around the table with family and friends, with bowls of crown mints and crystal glasses of port.

Mary loved gardening and could grow just about anything. Her garden was always flourishing and most of us have gardens full of her plants, either potted or cultivated from seedlings. Gardening was definitely one of her favourite past times. If you asked Mum…what plant is that? she would proceed to tell you it’s full 30 letter-3 syllable botanical name, where it originated from, how to care for it and its best conditions to thrive…did I mentioned she was a ‘WordSmith’. Being such a creative, she could cut a few twigs and foliage from the garden and turn them into the most spectacular arrangements.

Through the late 90’s and early 2000’s she became a Tree’s-4-Life Ambassador…there are thousands of trees planted and thriving all over SA thanks to Mary. Cultivating the seedlings and caring for the young sprouts until big enough to be transported to farms all over the State. Her Son, Frank personally planted a lot of trees while working up north at the Beverley Uranium Mine many years ago, it would be great to see how these trees have grown and improved the environment today . Mum was loving, thoughtful, hardworking and selfless and she had a determined strong willed personality. Growing up we always knew she was ‘cool’, but not just because she was Mum and drove a Torana. I recall a typically routine drive out to a family farm run by the Secomb’s at Rosedale, it was a fortnightly drive to fill up a big gallon bucket of fresh milk from the milking shed vat. Shortly after leaving the farm the twins (Paul & Frank) sitting in the back seat, said ‘ Mum, Mum…we are being chased! plant it Mum…so she did, all the way back to Gawler, they are still chasing go faster so she zig zagged and ducked down side streets close to home before pulling up the driveway. To our surprise, so did the car chasing us….turns out they were a couple of Willaston footy players merely trying to tell us we were leaving a trail of milk in our wake! The milk bucket had tipped over and the swimming pool in boot leaving a trail all the way home. I don’t think Mum thought she was very cool driving a stinky car around for the next couple of months!

Mum was big one for rules, my brother Stephen reminded me of the lemon tree story - instead of filling a ‘money jar’ with coins every time we swore she made us collect a bucket of lemons from the lemon tree in the backyard. The more we swore the higher up that tree you had to go to get lemons and the sharper the thorns got…..did I mention she was smart!

One of the special events we recall was her Surprise 50th Birthday, celebrating with family and friends. The occasion made extra special with her special nursing friends attending from Calvary days (Fiona, Rosemary and June) and the exquisite replica ‘Electric Typewriter’ cake made by her very talented Sister Elaine.

In her later years, Mary continued with her creative projects and gardening at home and her long standing commitment to volunteering and passion for historical research. In her retirement years, she took on the role of Local History Representative for the City of Playford working from both the Munno Para and Elizabeth Libraries…she did this for many years . All of the above said, her first love was always family, never forgetting birthday’s and special anniversaries and always going the extra mile to remind you how special you are and what you meant to her. Mary, Mum…you’re amazing and remarkable, very much loved and admired for everything you did and achieved. You will be in our hearts forever, Rest in Peace…we will always love you.

Mary Margaret Cockshell
Mary Margaret Cockshell

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