Frustration over a lack of local library services helped propel school parent Noelene Wallace into public service nearly five decades ago.
After leading a successful petition, the mother of three became the first-ever female member of the then-Yackandandah Shire in 1975.
Mrs Wallace served 16 years in total, including two terms as shire president, another first for females.
These achievements and many other community contributions have been recalled since the Kergunyah stalwart's death on January 10, aged 90.
Born Noelene Faul on October 27, 1931, in Sydney, Mrs Wallace moved to Albury with her family after a childhood in Gilgandra.
She left school at 15 to help provide for her family during World War II, but retained a love of learning.
As noted in a resume she wrote in 2001, she believed "education is a living thing and that experience is a great teacher in itself".
Her younger brother Clive Faul recalled fondly the gusto with which she approached life.
"If you ever wanted to experience Noelene in full flight, all one needed to do was throw her a challenge," he said during Friday's funeral at Kergunyah Uniting Church.
Her marriage to Sandy, who died last year just after their 60th wedding anniversary, took her to Old Warrawee in the Kiewa Valley, where the Wallace family had farmed since 1869.
The couple raised three children, Ian, Cameron and Megan, and now there are grandchildren, great-grandchildren and more on the way.
A member of the North East Catchment Management Committee as well as the Catchment and Land Protection Board, Mrs Wallace was the North East representative on the Murray Darling Basin Community Advisory Committee.
She completed more than four years on the council of Wodonga TAFE, including chair of the Board of Studies, and was also involved in groups such as Upper Murray Regional Library, Upper Murray Family Care and Upper Murray North East Agcare.
She contributed 20 years to the Red Cross and at least 17 years of active service to Landcare.
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Her funeral heard her legacy includes thousands of trees planted on the family dairy farm.
In 1983, Upper Murray Family Care manager Rhonda Stien described in a reference Mrs Wallace's warmth, good humour and character.
"Noelene Wallace is a person of utmost integrity who can be relied upon to approach issues without prejudice, to take responsibility for ensuring she is well informed on differing views, to make a firm but well balanced decision and finally to have the courage to present her views publicly and be accountable for them," Ms Stien said.
Mrs Wallace touched on similar views in a 2001 speech she gave when asked to open a Women on Farms gathering.
"Respect is something I have found has to be earned and is not earned by always agreeing with what other people have to say, however their right to their opinion should also be respected," she said.
"The most important respect of all is self-respect and without that then you have probably lost your way."
Her interests encompassed skiing, food and wine, playing cards, birds and nature and watching her grandchildren play sport.
Until her sudden death, Mrs Wallace was still doing the farm books, serving as treasurer of Kergunyah Uniting Church and playing cards with friends at Kergunyah Hall.
Her daughter Megan told mourners her mother "was a trailblazer, an inspiration and a role model for many women and girls".
"She was strong, independent, spoke her mind and stuck to her principles," Dr Wallace said.
"She helped to pave the way for more women to be taken seriously in traditionally male-dominated arenas.
"She was also hilarious, kind, welcoming, generous and a wonderful mum, nanna and great-nanna."
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