Betty McLean always a wise and generous fighter

Mrs McLean’s coffin was draped with the Australian flag and topped with special photos. Picture: PETER MERKESTEYN
Mrs McLean’s coffin was draped with the Australian flag and topped with special photos. Picture: PETER MERKESTEYN

BLUNT at times, generous on other occasions and a tower of strength to those in need — those were elements of the strong character of former Wodonga councillor Betty McLean.

Those facets and more were recalled yesterday at the funeral for Mrs McLean who died on February 14, nearly three months after celebrating her 90th birthday.

About 70 mourners gathered at Wodonga’s Conway Funeral Home to farewell Mrs McLean who was a councillor from 1977 to 1993.

She was also the inspiration for Betty’s Place, an Albury domestic violence refuge which opened in 2005.

Daughter Vicki McLean told mourners, who included the member for Indi Cathy McGowan and Wodonga mayor Rodney Wangman, that she was a mother with many skills and passions.

“Although often blunt and forthright in conversation, as many of you will know, she possessed an innate gentleness and warmth toward others which manifested itself in myriad ways,” Ms McLean said.

“Her encyclopedic memory for people was matched by her care and concern for their wellbeing.

“She admired the great without blindness, recognised ability without envy and was quick to see the merits and good in others.”

Ms McLean told of how her mother and late father, Bob, helped accommodate victims of domestic violence and gave money to those “down on their luck”, often parents who could not afford food, school books or excursions.

“These acts of generosity were done quietly and in private with no expectation of return,” Ms McLean said.

Betty McLean’s achievements included being Wodonga’s citizen of the year in 2000, the only woman appointed to the Victorian Abattoir and Meat Inspection Authority, co-founder of the Albury Community Centre and president of Upper Murray Family Care.

But Ms McLean said her mother was particularly touched by having Albury’s women’s refuge named in her honour.

“The first women’s refuge was in Betty and Bob’s home in Beechworth Road and it was probably one of mum’s proudest moments to be at the opening at Betty’s Place — not just for the recognition, but for the relief of knowing that there was a place of safety for those who needed it,” Ms McLean said.

The chairman of the Albury- Wodonga Community Network, Colin Adcock, oversees the administration of Betty’s Place.

“Betty, through your work and dedication you have made the world a better place. You have made Albury-Wodonga a better place,” Mr Adcock said.

“Today, thousands of women and children can thank you for your passion and unswerving commitment to supporting them rebuild their lives.”

Ms McLean was joined at the funeral by her sister Robyn Sterrett and three of Mrs McLean’s five grandchildren.