MARTIN and Brenda Gleeson loved their community and that love was reciprocated with the dedication and blessing at a park named in their honour in Yamanto. It was fitting that a new park in Yamanto was named Gleeson Park, as the late couple were adored by all who knew them for the care and compassion they showed to all and their outstanding contribution to community life.
An information sign at the park describes the long association the Gleeson family has had with Ipswich, which the following details are taken from.
Martin Gleeson was Principal of Raceview State School for almost 20 years. He and wife Brenda lived in the school house in Raceview from 1959 until they built their own house in Butler Street near the school, so Martin could walk through to his work. They retired to their six acre Yamanto property in 1978, where they maintained many friends and kept a busy social life. Martin was very active in the St Vincent de Paul society and both were conscientious members of the St Mary’s parish, attending the Church of the Miraculous Medal and working tirelessly for their charities. Brenda was known by all at the West Moreton Village as her interests were many and varied.
The couple had five children and the eldest, Trish Cunningham, told the QT how the driving force behind the naming was one of the Gleesons’ neighbours in Yamanto, Thora Benning. She got in contact with friends and business people in West Moreton Village to petition for the naming of the park and Trish used that support to take to Cr David Pahlke to set the wheels in motion. The Gleesons were well known for their caring personalities and had a real passion for the community in which they lived. They welcomed everyone in the community onto their property and had a swimming pool there,” Ms Cunningham recalled. “Families would go up there for respite, parties and the kids could swim in the pool, ride horses and bikes and learn to drive cars…everything.”
Supporting the local community was a creed Martin and Brenda lived by. “They would not buy anything that was not locally available,” Ms Cunningham said. Ms Cunningham said the family was thrilled at the naming of the park, which Ipswich City Council spent over $400,000 on. “It is a lovely park and we are very grateful to the council for making it so lovely,” she said. “It is wonderful there is a kids playground there because mum has 27 great grandchildren, and every one of them she would send things to. She was very generous with everybody.”
Martin passed away in 2006. Brenda was still driving when she was tragically killed, at 97, in a vehicle accident at Churchill in 2015. In typical fashion she was involved in community activity until the very last. “Mum was killed going to a Rosary with the CWL (Catholic Women’s League) ladies,” Ms Cunningham said. “They raise money for charities and do a lot of good work.”
Ms Cunningham thanked Cr Pahlke for being “an amazing support” in seeing the park named. “When you name things you usually get disagreement, but not in this instance,” Cr Pahlke said. “There was overwhelming support to name the park after Brenda and Martin.” Cr Pahlke said the Gleeson, Cairns, Cunningham, Willersdorf and Venzke families were among those in attendance at the naming.
Ms Cunningham spoke on behalf of the family, John Mitchell on behalf of St Mary’s Parish and Father Stephen Bliss from St Mary’s did the dedication and blessing. Memento certificates were handed out to the families present. “I thought we might get 20 people turn up to the opening but we got 80,” Cr Pahlke said. “Martin and Brenda only lived two doors away from the park. “They loved their community, and their community loved them…and that was so evident at the opening. “This is what Ipswich is all about – community, love, compassion and helping each other.”
STORY COURTESY OF THE QLD TIMES