GRACE Eppelstun was born into a pioneering family – the Reeds of Goongerah.
Her grandfather was a successful prospector, then businessman, in the Bendoc area before he moved to Goongerah with his family in the early 1880s.
Eventually his two sons William (Willie) and Hamilton (Hammy) married, built houses and started their own families at Goongerah.
Grace was the eldest daughter and second child of William and Amy (nee Roberts) Reed.
She spent her early childhood at Goongerah with her siblings, Bill, Bertha, Stan and Frank.
They ran cattle in the bush on a grazing lease of 60,000 acres, kept fowls, milked cows for household use, raised pigs and ran a boarding house for travellers.
Schooling was a problem.
At one time a cousin came to teach them, then a governess funded by both families.
When Grace was 14 the Hammy and Willie Reeds moved to Delegate River for schooling.
She also helped her family with housework and work on the farm.
In 1933 Grace married Herbert (Herb) Henry Eppelstun and moved to Browns Camp.
Before long they built a new house and raised their family – Val, Jean, John and Henry.
There were some lean years after the Great Depression and during World War 11 but with their vegetable garden, milking cows, poultry and a ready source of meat they managed reasonably well.
Like most country women, Grace had some well honed skills.
She was a good country cook and a good manager.
She could milk a cow, make butter, bake bread, preserve fruit, make jam, knit and sew, and she could ride a horse.
She also had some well instilled rules of life – among them ‘Waste not, want not’ and ‘The devil makes work for idle hands’.
The wool boom after the war brought prosperity which in turn brought new opportunities.
Herb and Grace sent their children away to high school.
Roads improved and petrol became available.
They travelled around parts of Victoria and NSW sightseeing and visiting friends and family and took a trip to Perth on the Indian Pacific.
In 1980 they sold up and moved to Bombala.
There was a greater opportunity for Grace to involve herself in the community.
She was an active member of the CWA, golf and tennis clubs, Delegate Show Committee, Bombala hospital and ambulance auxiliaries, and she was also a supporter of men’s and women’s bowls throughout the district.
Shortly after her 90th birthday Grace had the honour of being awarded joint citizen of the year with Maureen Paisley.
In making the presentation speech, the Mayor, Cr Fay Campbell, said: “(Mrs Eppelstun) is untiring in her efforts to bring some cheer and practical help to others by way of her regular visits to the residents of Currawarna Hostel and the hospital and also by her active participation in Meals on Wheels. Never one to approach life in a half-hearted manner, Grace adopts a universal approach to the churches in town and ensures that they all benefit from her support by way of cooking and produce for their stalls and functions.”
In 2008, Grace’s 100th birthday was celebrated at St Mathias Church, Bombala, where the Reverend Ken Foster offered thanksgiving for a life lived for so long and so fully within God’s family.
He spoke of the challenges and trials which must have tried her faith but she remained steadfast and became an example to all; so much so that she was lovingly known as ‘Amazing Grace’ .
Grace loved people – her family, her relatives, her friends.
She took a keen interest in what was happening in their lives and was genuine in her pleasure at their achievements and in her concern for their problems.
She visited, telephoned, wrote letters an remembered birthdays.
She really kept in touch.
Grace had four children, eight grandchildren, 23 great grandchildren and one great great grandchild.
She was much loved by all and will be sadly missed.