On leaving school Mary studied accountancy and worked for a number of years as a secretary/bookkeeper.
She entered Rolland House to train as a Presbyterian Deaconess because “I wanted to help people, not help people make money.”
Her first appointment was in 1953 at Mildura, Victoria, and then in 1958 she was given the great challenge of working in the fast growing suburb of Dandenong. When the parish was divided in 1964, Mary asked to be appointed to the Doveton area where there were many significant social problems.
Recognising her need to be better equipped for these challenges, Mary trained as a social worker at Monash University.
In 1971 she went to Heidelberg where the Olympic Village had been converted to low cost housing. Mary helped establish the Heidelberg Community Health Centre (which still continues as Banyule Health Services), and was seconded to assist Professor Henderson’s Commission of Inquiry into Poverty in the 1970s.
Mary met Dudley (Doug) Hawkes through their common interest in the Field Naturalists Society and they were married in 1975, whereupon Mary relocated to Wynyard, Tasmania.
Mary continued her work as a social worker serving on the board of Summit Industries and initiating what became the North West Residential Service, replacing the institution with affordable shared housing for the disabled.
Mary served the church as a lay preacher, bible study leader, social justice spokesperson and firm friend. She was also active in the community through the field naturalists and the camera club.
Following Doug’s death in 2006 Mary’s health declined and her later years were spent at the Wynyard Care Centre.
Mary had an outstanding intellect which could penetrate to the heart of a problem, and also the practical sense to recognise workable solutions; so many of the things she initiated are still ongoing. She will always be remembered for her overwhelming desire to serve others.
Rev Peter Cotterell
Minister in Association (and friend of Mary)