Marj and her late husband Royce, gave much of their time to various community associations within the Samford area, from which later generations continue to benefit.
While Marj was in hospital for a spinal operation in 1953, Royce bought a Casket Ticket which raised funds for the hospital and it won the first prize of five-thousand pounds, allowing them to buy a condemned dairy farm in Camp Mountain the following year. Through great effort, they got the farm up and running after being given a six-month timeframe to do so by the Milk Board. Marj was a fast learner at farm work but found that she suffered from numerous related allergies. In the early 1960s, Royce, supported by Marj, was one of the foundation members of The United Milk Producers Co-operative Association Limited (known as ‘the Co-Op’).
Marj and Royce sent their eldest son to Camp Mountain School at an early age to help with numbers to keep the school open, however the school closed shortly afterwards. The two eldest children, Graham and Linda, then rode to Samford State School on their horse, or hitched a ride part of the way on the milk truck, then walked across the paddocks to the school. Tragically, Marj & Royce’s third child, Jeffrey, died before his second birthday; their fourth child, Ken, was born soon after.
By 1972, Marj and Royce changed their farming focus to cattle, but, only two years later, Royce died suddenly at the age of just 48. Royce had also been heavily involved in community work, as a fundraiser on the Samford School Committee and as a volunteer firefighter. He also gave his time to successfully challenge a quarry application in Camp Mountain and was part of the resultant formation of (what is now called) the Samford and District Progress and Protection Association (SDPPA).
After Royce’s death, Marj needed to return to work. A trained teacher, her years away from the classroom meant that Marj had to find a different line of employment, so she started as an assistant at the Samford Post Office where she remained until her retirement.
Marj was a member of the SDPPA where she served as Treasurer and was also a member of the editorial committee for The Village Pump.
In 1984, Marj became secretary for the newly-formed Samford District Historical Museum Society, a busy position she held for 22 years. In 2001, she was awarded the society’s honoured Life Membership during the official opening of the museum’s Blacksmith Shop. Among her many contributions to the museum, Marj made and iced a celebration cake for the Museum’s 20th Anniversary and the launch of “Samford Reminiscences Vol. 5” in 2006 and, over many years, took photographs of the museum’s many activities.
Marj was involved with the Incapacitated Servicemen’s Association (ISA) and in 1993 became the Patron of Northern Metropolitan Branch. She was later awarded life membership for her unending efforts to help those struggling with life after serving their country. Part of her role involved organising day trips and annual getaways, connecting, educating and providing a moment of relaxation for members.
In 1996 she received the SDPPA’s Community Award at the ‘Christmas in the Village’ celebration which was organised annually by the SDPPA. In 2001, Marj received the International Year of Volunteers Silver Medallion Award and, when nominating Marj for a 2011 Ferny Grove Community Champions Award, the museum described Marj as – “Having many talents – cooking, jam-making, upholstering chairs, organising displays and with undying energy and generosity – she is a true champion”.
Marj also worked with the Samford Red Cross for 20 years, assisting at the Blood Bank. She was well known for her cake and jam-making which graced many stalls to raise funds for the various associations with which she was involved, including Meals on Wheels.
At the end of 2000, Marj sold most of her farm, retaining the family home and five acres which she took great joy in landscaping.
In 2002, Dr EN Marks bequeathed her property in Samford freehold for ecological and educational purposes. Marj assisted the executors to decide on the most suitable beneficiary. Queensland University of Technology was chosen and Marj attended the open days for the Samford Environmental Research Facility (SERF) over the next decade to listen to their achievements and to give advice from the Samford community. Marj’s discernment and personal interest in the future of Samford guided the executors in achieving this successful outcome.
After a lifetime of achievements and many significant contributions to her community, Marj will be remembered by all who knew her, as a knowledgeable, hardworking and generous person who gave her time willingly for the benefit of others and she will be missed by many in our community.
Thanks to Tanya Hall, Samford Museum and the Fathers family for collaborating on this article.
The SDPPA acknowledges and thanks Marj Fathers for her contribution to the association and to this community. It is the commitment of volunteers like Marj that make this community great.