Gladys Aileen BARTRAM (NEE KLINGBERG)
5.11.1926 - 17.10.2018
A humble lady who strongly believed “giving is not just about making a donation; it’s about making a difference”. Gladys made a difference.
Gladys Aileen Klingberg was born the second child of Gustav Ewald (known as Ave) and Miriam Nellie Klingberg of Arden Vale. She was raised on the family property at Section 103 Hundred of Yarrah, situated at the foot of “The Bluff”.
She used to say often “our life was good. I wouldn’t swap it for a kid’s life today”
Gladys attended Arden Vale School and left at age 11 to work first baking food for a cafe.
“Where I lived everyone was involved with something or other. There are plenty of organisations where you could go and just sit and chatter but that wasn’t me, I’m not a social person.” So at the tender age of 11 years Gladys joined Red Cross.
Later Gladys worked cleaning engines on the railways in Quorn. Of the Commonwealth Railways Gladys said, “there were only four girls working on that particular section of the railway, and I used to climb up on those engines and scrape all the grease off”
Soon World War II was on and many hands pulled together in small communities like Quorn.
Gladys said, “during the war, Quorn as I understood was the only town in Australia that fed all the troops before they went up to Darwin.”
“You can’t believe the cooking we did and I can remember getting recipes that would make your hair go curly. When the engine driver blew the whistle at the summit (from Port Augusta) we’d put the eggs on, because we knew we would only have an hour to feed the troops” A lot of Americans wrote back and thanked all the women of Quorn for what they did. I wasn’t a woman! I was only a kid then”
Following her time in Quorn, Gladys married and moved first to Port Augusta and later to Darwin, where she diligently continued her work with Red Cross which involved visiting the elderly in residential units, taking books, reading to them, shopping, doing anything really, like mending or sewing, regularly visiting the hospital or simply running the Red Cross Cafe in Darwin all of which she found rewarding.
Eventually she left Darwin and then moved to Canberra, before settling in Queanbeyan where she served her last 43 years. Her dedication and motto was to do one job properly.
I remember she said, “I used to get in all sorts of trouble in Canberra, because I loved to break the rules. One particular case I gave a fellow a bandaid when he came because he’d cut his hand. Its common sense these days, but if he had contracted a germ from my efforts he could have sued Red Cross because I wasn’t qualified! That’s how the world has gone and we just wouldn’t be able to pick up all the people at the war veterans home like we used to and take them shopping because you’d have to have all the insurances. It’s very sad in that respect, but Red Cross still do one hell of a lot of good things – I mean you could go on forever!!”
Gladys said there were too many different disasters and countries to remember but her years of sewing, knitting and crocheting every night after tea, and even during the day when she ran a pet shop in Queanbeyan with her eldest son Robert, is testament to a very active lady to the end.
Serving Red Cross Australia for 80 years is pretty hard to beat. Gladys was recognised for her efforts by Red Cross Australia, but in her very humble style she said “Red Cross has a lot to do with everything, and while it may change with the times, its future is strong”
Aunty Gladys, my aunt and godmother is survived by her sons, Robert, Geoff, and John and daughter Sandi.
A very humble, hard working lady now rests peacefully in Queanbeyan Cemetery.