A tribute to the late Jean Cordiner and her service to the community

The life of the late Jean Cordiner was celebrated at her funeral at the Hunters Hill Congretation Church last Wednesday.

Ninety year old Jean Cordiner was one of Tennyson’s first residents and was a Senior Prefect at Riverside Girls High School.

She was also the editor of a small local newspaper in Gladesville when 17 years old.

Her autobiography titled “Jean Cordiner – My Story” looks back at those early years, when she met and fell in love with her husband Bobby.

“Two girlfriends and I joined this club in Gladesville, which was apparently an offshoot of the Communist Party.

“It was a marvellous club, very well run and we had a meeting every week.

“It was held over a produce store in Gladesville.

“The president of this club was Bobby Cordiner.

“We also put out a paper once a month and I ended up being editor.

“In my lunch break at work I used to type up all these papers and then race back to George Street. There was a place where you could print.”

Jean also worked for local Mayor “Mr Bondfield” and went on to work in the Town Clerk’s Office.

“Bob and I had become a twosome by then and in 1948 I was 21 and that’s when we were married.”

At the celebration of her life, her son Graeme Cordiner takes up the story.

“Mum became the matriarch of our family and with her passing is the passing of an era in Ryde,” he said.

“She bought a house on the waterfront in Tennyson for five hundred pounds and at that time Gladesville was still the wild west, it was just bush with no electricity, one tap and kerosine lamps.

“That was what life was like here then.

“All her life she had compassion for others and if she felt strongly about something she would speak out about it because she had that quality of social justice.

“The other quality she had, which was the hallmark of her generation, is that she never had a sense of entitlement, she took life as it came.”

Jean was also actively involved in the scouting movement, as her autobiography recalls.

“In 1960 dad died and shortly after that Graeme and (brother) Len joined the Scouts in Gladesville.

“Bob also became very involved with the Scouts and went on all their scout camps and I remained Secretary until the boys left many years later.”

Jean also worked for Halvorsen Boats for many years.

“I went to the local employment office at Gladesville and they told me that Halvorsen boat builders down at Putney were looking for someone to work in the office.

“Bob’s dad was working for Halvorsen, he used to be on the trawlers back in the North Sea in Scotland.

“By the time I got there, he was working in the worshop as a splicer.”

In later life her strong sense of social justice led to her being involved in the Bennelong Aboriginal Reconcilliation Group and in the Al-Anon support group for people with an alcohol addiction.

“Mum was always motivated by her Christian Faith,” Graeme said.

“God was, for her, a friend.”

Completed only months before her passing, Jean’s autobiography concludes with these poignant words.

“I’ve been an old lady and it is now 2017.

“I’ve had various trips to the hospital for various things.

“Of my generation left now is only my brother-in-law at 87 and my sister-in-law Ellice at 95.

“My old girldfriend Peggy (88) still drives down from the Central Coast to see me.

“I will write the sequel to My Story next year.”

As Graeme concludes.

“We’re not only losing a mother, we are losing a story.”

The late Jean Cordiner’s sons Graeme and Len and sister Diana Unsworth hold Jean’s autobiography at her funeral and celebration of her life with family and friends at the Hunters Hill Congregational Church. TWT on-the-spot PHOTO