More than 50 members of Rural Women Southland formed a guard of honour at the passing of Lois Burnett, a loved and valued member, following the service of farewell at Avenal Park led by her friend and former Rural Women NZ president, Jeanette McIntyre.
Mrs McIntyre said Lois Burnett did not drift through her days.
"She lived her life fully and well, lived the Women's Creed, the prayer shared at our gatherings, treasured her husband, her family, her community, her country."
Mrs Burnett had joined the then WDFF when taken along to the Dacre branch by her mother-in-law, a regular way of introduction in those days.
When she moved with her husband, Euan, to Hedgehope in the 1970s, she became an active and involved member and eventually president, later joining Hokonui on their move to Winton, willingly accepting office, becoming involved with the Housekeeping and Forestry committees, and being made a life member of Mid Provincial before helping set up the new Mid East.
As inter-provincial president she attended many conferences further north, a popular delegate whose sense of humour lightened many meetings.
Southlander Ann Irving said Lois had a way of making everyone feel special, a quiet leader who never hesitated to do the work, shared her wisdom, and was always respectful of others - "a dear and valued friend we will miss greatly".
Lois was born in August 1946, the first of four children of Jan and Bob Atley, of Baird St, Invercargill.
During her years at Southland Girls' High School she proved to be a natural sportswoman, a track and field athlete who enjoyed hurdling, sprinting, and the high jump. She played badminton and basketball, now netball, which she was to love the whole of her life, as player, coach, team manager, and president of the Central Southland netball centre. She spearheaded the move to have the courts covered, and was a faithful fan of the then Southern Sting, never missing their games or others on the local scene.
Mrs Burnett retained her interest in and support for netball to the end. Between school and marriage to Southland farmer Euan, Lois worked at the Commercial Bank of Australia whose Tay St premises, she was amused to note, have since been occupied by nightclub Saints and Sinners.
The young couple married on February 4, 1967, at St John's in Invercargill, the start of a happy life together with the coming of their children Robyn, Jenny and Alistair, and their involvements with farming, schools, rural life and, eventually, grandchildren. They enjoyed overseas travel, to Europe and the UK, Hong Kong and South Korea, Germany, Canada and Alaska, more recently a farming tour of Scandinavia, Iceland and Scotland.
Five years ago they downsized and moved to Winton, enjoying the landscaping of their new property.
Serious health issues earlier in the year necessitated a move to the support and companionship of Rowena Jackson and, recently for Lois, the palliative care of Hospice Southland.
Mrs McIntyre said Lois Burnett's strength in dealing with the problems illness brought was inspirational, with serenity her hallmark.
She leaves behind her husband Euan, her brothers Noel and Geoffrey, her children Robyn and Vaughan, Jenny and Jeff, Alistair and Andrea; grandchildren Bethany and Greer Edie, Myross Bush; Jordan, Maddisen and Quinn Andrews, Winton; Ethan, Olivia and Angus Burnett, Myross Bush.
Later in the day, as Mrs Burnett was laid to rest at the Winton cemetery, her grandchildren released a host of brightly coloured balloons, a traditional tribute to their grandma. It was August 28, her 67th birthday.
- © Fairfax NZ News