Kiwi MH17 victim died with her loving husband

A man blocks access to the scene of the crash of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 as emergency personnel remove the bodies of passengers.
A man blocks access to the scene of the crash of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 as emergency personnel remove the bodies of passengers.
A flower placed on wreckage is pictured at the crash site of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17.
A flower placed on wreckage is pictured at the crash site of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17.
A pro-Russian separatist holds a stuffed toy found at the crash site of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17.
A pro-Russian separatist holds a stuffed toy found at the crash site of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17.
A woman lights candles at a memorial for victims of the downed Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 in Kuala Lumpur.
A woman lights candles at a memorial for victims of the downed Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 in Kuala Lumpur.
Pro-Russian separatists look at passengers' belongings at the crash site of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17.
Pro-Russian separatists look at passengers' belongings at the crash site of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17.
Members of the Ukrainian Emergency Ministry search for bodies near the site of Thursday's Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 plane crash.
Members of the Ukrainian Emergency Ministry search for bodies near the site of Thursday's Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 plane crash.
A journalist takes photographs at the site of Thursday's Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 plane crash.
A journalist takes photographs at the site of Thursday's Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 plane crash.
Members of the Ukrainian Emergency Ministry search for bodies near the site of Thursday's Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 plane crash.
Members of the Ukrainian Emergency Ministry search for bodies near the site of Thursday's Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 plane crash.
 Relatives of passengers on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 arrive at Kuala Lumpur International Airport.
Relatives of passengers on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 arrive at Kuala Lumpur International Airport.
Members of the public walk past signage on the Princes Bridge for the 20th International AIDS Conference in Melbourne, Australia. Twenty-seven Australians and more than 100 AIDS activists, researchers, health workers and delegates bound for the major conference were among those aboard MH17.
Members of the public walk past signage on the Princes Bridge for the 20th International AIDS Conference in Melbourne, Australia. Twenty-seven Australians and more than 100 AIDS activists, researchers, health workers and delegates bound for the major conference were among those aboard MH17.
A security officer passes a Malaysia Airlines advertisement at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Sepang
A security officer passes a Malaysia Airlines advertisement at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Sepang
A man (in blue) whose family was onboard the Malaysia Airlines MH17 consoles another who had just arrived with her wife to receive confirmation that their daughter's family was onboard the plane, at Kuala Lumpur International Airport.
A man (in blue) whose family was onboard the Malaysia Airlines MH17 consoles another who had just arrived with her wife to receive confirmation that their daughter's family was onboard the plane, at Kuala Lumpur International Airport.
A relative of a passenger onboard the Malaysia Airlines (MAS) MH17 is assisted by MAS staff members as she leaves Kuala Lumpur International Airport.
A relative of a passenger onboard the Malaysia Airlines (MAS) MH17 is assisted by MAS staff members as she leaves Kuala Lumpur International Airport.
Malaysian Siti Dina speaks to media as she arrives to confirm news that her daughter was on board Malaysia Airlines MH17 at Kuala Lumpur International Airport.
Malaysian Siti Dina speaks to media as she arrives to confirm news that her daughter was on board Malaysia Airlines MH17 at Kuala Lumpur International Airport.
A father and daughter light candles at the Dutch embassy to commemorate the victims of Malaysia Airlines MH17.
A father and daughter light candles at the Dutch embassy to commemorate the victims of Malaysia Airlines MH17.
Malaysian Siti Dina weeps after seeing her daughter's name on the list of passengers on board MH17.
Malaysian Siti Dina weeps after seeing her daughter's name on the list of passengers on board MH17.
People light candles at the Dutch embassy for victims of Malaysia Airlines MH17.
People light candles at the Dutch embassy for victims of Malaysia Airlines MH17.
People place candles and flowers at the Dutch embassy for victims of Malaysia Airlines MH17.
People place candles and flowers at the Dutch embassy for victims of Malaysia Airlines MH17.
People bring flowers and candles to the Dutch embassy to commemorate the victims of the Malaysia Airlines plane crash.
People bring flowers and candles to the Dutch embassy to commemorate the victims of the Malaysia Airlines plane crash.
Relatives of passengers onboard the downed Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 arrive at Kuala Lumpur International Airport.
Relatives of passengers onboard the downed Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 arrive at Kuala Lumpur International Airport.
A woman who said she believed her sister was on Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, cries as she waits for more information.
A woman who said she believed her sister was on Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, cries as she waits for more information.
A Malaysian woman who had a relative on board the Malaysian Airlines MH17 waits to travel to Kuala Lumpur.
A Malaysian woman who had a relative on board the Malaysian Airlines MH17 waits to travel to Kuala Lumpur.
An Emergencies Ministry member walks through the site of the Malaysia Airlines plane crash.
An Emergencies Ministry member walks through the site of the Malaysia Airlines plane crash.
A firefighter stands as flames burst amongst the wreckages of the MH17.
A firefighter stands as flames burst amongst the wreckages of the MH17.
The wreckage smoulders at the site of the MH17 crash.
The wreckage smoulders at the site of the MH17 crash.
A family member cries as she receives the news of the ill fated flight MH17.
A family member cries as she receives the news of the ill fated flight MH17.
Armed pro-Russian separatists stand at the site of the Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 plane crash near the settlement of Grabovo.
Armed pro-Russian separatists stand at the site of the Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 plane crash near the settlement of Grabovo.
Smoke rises from the wreckage of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17.
Smoke rises from the wreckage of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17.
Schiphol Chief Executive Jos Nijhuis, Malaysia Airlines Senior Vice President Huib Gorter (middle) and Malaysia's ambassador to the Netherlands Fauziah Binti Mohd Taib at a news conference on flight MH17 at Schiphol Airport.
Schiphol Chief Executive Jos Nijhuis, Malaysia Airlines Senior Vice President Huib Gorter (middle) and Malaysia's ambassador to the Netherlands Fauziah Binti Mohd Taib at a news conference on flight MH17 at Schiphol Airport.
Talking to reporters, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak (R) demands swift justice for those responsible for the crash of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, as Defence Minister Hishammuddin Hussein looks on.
Talking to reporters, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak (R) demands swift justice for those responsible for the crash of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, as Defence Minister Hishammuddin Hussein looks on.
Family members of passengers on Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 on a bus bringing them to a separate area at Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport.
Family members of passengers on Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 on a bus bringing them to a separate area at Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport.
US President Barack Obama speaks about the crash of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, during a visit to Wilmington, Delaware.
US President Barack Obama speaks about the crash of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, during a visit to Wilmington, Delaware.
Russian President Vladimir Putin and other high-ranked officials observe a minute's silence for victims of the Malaysia Airlines plane crash.
Russian President Vladimir Putin and other high-ranked officials observe a minute's silence for victims of the Malaysia Airlines plane crash.
An Emergencies Ministry member walks at the site of the Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 plane crash in Ukraine.
An Emergencies Ministry member walks at the site of the Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 plane crash in Ukraine.
The site of the Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 plane crash near the settlement of Grabovo in the Donetsk region.
The site of the Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 plane crash near the settlement of Grabovo in the Donetsk region.
The upper floor of Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport is reserved for family and relatives of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17.
The upper floor of Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport is reserved for family and relatives of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17.
Part of the wreckage of a Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 is seen after it crashed near the settlement of Grabovo in the Donetsk region.
Part of the wreckage of a Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 is seen after it crashed near the settlement of Grabovo in the Donetsk region.
Wreckage from Malaysia Airlines flight 17 smoulders at the main crash site.
Wreckage from Malaysia Airlines flight 17 smoulders at the main crash site.
Wreckage from Malaysia Airlines flight 17 smoulders at the main crash site.
Wreckage from Malaysia Airlines flight 17 smoulders at the main crash site.
Emergencies Ministry members work at the site of a Malaysia Airlines plane crash near Grabovo, Ukraine.
Emergencies Ministry members work at the site of a Malaysia Airlines plane crash near Grabovo, Ukraine.
Wreckage from Malaysia Airlines flight 17 smoulders at the main crash site.
Wreckage from Malaysia Airlines flight 17 smoulders at the main crash site.
Wreckage from Malaysia Airlines flight 17 smoulders at the main crash site.
Wreckage from Malaysia Airlines flight 17 smoulders at the main crash site.
Malaysia Airlines flight 17 from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur.
Malaysia Airlines flight 17 from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur.
Emergencies Ministry members work at the site of a Malaysia Airlines plane crash near Grabovo, Ukraine.
Emergencies Ministry members work at the site of a Malaysia Airlines plane crash near Grabovo, Ukraine.
The crash site of Malaysia Airlines flight 17 near the village of Grabovo, Ukraine.
The crash site of Malaysia Airlines flight 17 near the village of Grabovo, Ukraine.

A Kiwi victim and her husband who were aboard shot-down Flight MH17 are being remembered as a loving couple who "did everything together" and gave back to the community. 

Mary and Gerry Menke - who lived in the Victorian fishing village of Mallacoota, 514km east of Melbourne - were among the 298 passengers and crew who died when the Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 was shot out of the sky by a missile over Ukraine on Friday.

The pair - understood to have had three adult children - were returning to Australia following their annual holiday to Europe.

Mary Menke
Mary Menke

They ran an innovative abalone pearl producing company, Mallacoota Abalone Pearls Australia.

Mary, who had family living in the South Island, including near Christchurch, also ran the local hairdresser and beauty salon with daughter, Anna.

The couple are being remembered for always giving back to the community. 

Executive officer of Business and Tourism East Gippsland Jeanette Seignior has paid tribute to the couple in a statement.

Seignior said the achievements of the couple, who had lived Mallacoota for several years, were recognised by the community last year when MAPA Pearls picked up the Judge’s Special Award in the 2013 East Gippsland Business Awards.

The award followed years of hard work for Gerry Menke, an abalone diver with decades of experience.

“Gerry and Mary were a wonderful couple and were delighted with the win, which cemented in their minds that what had begun as Gerry’s hobby had turned into a unique and burgeoning business,” she said.

“But it was far more than that. The Menkes were committed to giving back to the community and this year had committed to sponsoring the business awards, which they felt had given them so much. We have been very grateful for their support and contribution. They will be greatly missed by their family, friends and all of those who have been lucky enough to work with them.” 

This year the Menke family – several of whom work in the business – were preparing to take MAPA Pearls to the next level.

They had recently filmed a segment for the BBC program, Coast, which focused on the process of culturing abalone pearls, perfected by Gerry over many years.

They also were developing ways to increase pearl production to meet the demands of their jewellery sales.

A friend, Mark Touzeau, remembered Mary as a "lovely person" who "was always very chatty, talkative and easy to get along with. She was a lovely person. They were great people."

He said the Menkes had travelled to New Zealand earlier this year to spend time with her relatives.

The couple viewed Mallacoota, population 1000, as their dream home.

"They loved Mallacoota with its beautiful unspoilt beaches and nature walks... we used to talk [about it being] one of the nicest places on Earth," he said.

"They were both very fit for their age. They walked, they rode, swam and were very active. They basically did everything together."

Touzeau said the couple were highly respected in the tight-knit community. The fact they had died in such horrific circumstance would hit the village hard, he said.

"Who would think that two people from this township of Mallacoota would be [killed] over the skies of Ukraine," he said.

"As one of the headlines said it is just an 'unspeakable crime'. It is terrorism; here we are in a modern civilisation and there seems to be more conflict than ever."

Sunday Star Times