Joan Beswick 1930 - 2001
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Joan was born Joan Mavis Green, at Blackburn on 24 March 1930, the daughter of Harold Ernest Green and Agnes May Green, née Dean. Her parents had moved out from the inner suburbs to Blackburn when it was a quiet semi-rural community and she grew up there in a strong family with her brother Bob, attending the Blackburn State School and later Camberwell Girls School (Canterbury Girls High) for secondary education before Everett's Business College for a secretarial course.
The Blackburn Methodist Church was a major influence and a point of involvement with a large group of young friends. Joan was exceptionally faithful in her attendance at worship and Sunday School. In her youth, she sang in the choir, taught in the Kindergarten, was a member of the Girls Comrades, played in the church tennis teams, and through youth activities became involved in the wider work of the Church, including Easter Camps, Summer Schools and regional organisations.
Joan worked for ten years in the Methodist Young People's Department (Department of Christian Education) office in Melbourne, first as secretary to the Rev Charles Gallacher and later assisting Rev Dr Cliff Wright. It was through the Church's youth activities, which were very extensive in those days, that she met her future husband, David Beswick, when he was a theological student. They were married at Blackburn in 1957, and Joan worked as Secretary of the Department of Philosophy at the University until they went to the United States in 1958 for three years while David was doing his PhD at Harvard. While living in the Boston area she worked for the Canadian Consulate as an information officer until her first child, Robert, was born.
Three more children were born within a few years after Joan and David returned to Australia in 1961 to take up regular ministry in Victoria, Helen being born at Geelong, and Bruce and Andrew at Mornington. They moved to Canberra in 1967 where David had an appointment at the ANU and they were engaged in the life of Methodist National Memorial (Wesley) Church. Joan served for a time as secretary to Rev Dr James Udy. When David was appointed to a chair at the University of Melbourne in 1976 they came to live in North Balwyn for nearly 13 years, during which time the children grew up with her warm support and left home, and Joan was involved in women's organisations in the Church and University in which she formed friendships which were maintained in later years. She was an elder of the Trinity Congregation and Secretary of the Council of Elders. She also served for a year looking after the office of George St Uniting Church, Doncaster, where David had a part time ministry.
The next phase of Joan's life came when David returned to full time work in the Church in 1989 as presbytery minister in Gippsland and they moved to live in Sale. Joan travelled all over Gippsland with David and represented the UCAF in the Presbytery and State Council. Their final church appointment was to the Templestowe Parish where again she was active in the life of the congregation and in leadership roles, before retiring at the end of 1997 to live in the Upper Yarra Valley at Wesburn in an area that she knew well from her childhood as it was near the old Green family holiday "bush house".
Over these years she delighted in the arrival and growing interests of her four Grandchildren, James, Tim, Lachlan and Alice Chapman with each of whom she developed a good one to one relationship. Earlier, she had also provided loving support to her own mother in her declining years.
Joan's interests were focussed on people and the natural world. She was a keen gardener and observer of birds and plants both in the domestic setting and in the bush. She belonged to walking groups in different places and enjoyed camping and bush walking. Although she would not have considered herself an intellectual she read widely and was well informed on many subjects, enjoyed classical music and hymns, and she made the effort to join in University groups and to act as hostess in support of her husband's work. In the last few years when she was not as strong as she had been she was contented with a quieter life in the country near Melbourne, but continued to maintain city interests and to travel.
Joan and David travelled to many countries and Joan made friends in various places. Some of her friendships in Australia and overseas have been maintained with warmth of mutual affection over several decades even with infrequent contacts. She called herself a "people person" and had a great capacity for understanding and supportive relationships. She was an unassuming, indeed modest person, always faithful to God and the people in her life, absolutely trustworthy, never judgmental, firm in her convictions and loyalties and yet always ready to take new ventures and to delight in the variety of experience which came to her in many different ways. Without intending to influence others, she inspired confidence, love and peace through her complete reliability and calming affect, while unselfconsciously she mediated the grace of God. She died at home on 18 April 2001 after a brief struggle with cancer. We give thanks to God for her life.
See also some of the words of appreciation from letters and cards in her memory.
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