Remembering Kathy Whitney
No resident has touched the Burpengary Community more lovingly or faithfully than Kathy Whitney (nee O’Brien), who passed away in April 2016 at age eighty-six, and on Saturday June 10, the land at 46 O’Brien Road, Burpengary, was officially named Kathy Whitney Reserve as a reminder of her dedication to the local community.
Councillor Peter Flannery conducted the unveiling ceremony, acknowledging Kathy’s strong family connection to O’Brien Road and many achievements.
“Kathy Whitney was a well-respected and much-loved figure in the Burpengary community,” Cr Flannery said. “Naming this land as ‘Kathy Whitney Reserve’ creates a legacy to remember Mrs Whitney’s outstanding dedication to her community.”
Born in 1929, Kathy lived the majority of her life on a portion of the original homestead property located on O’Brien Road, Burpengary, and her many stories of growing up in Burpengary continue to be passed on through the family.
Kathy attended Burpengary State School until the age of approximately 13. “It was a real bush or country school then. There were a few children from local families in attendance,” said daughter, Kim Weedman. “Mum developed her sense of community and values from her parents Patrick and Annie O’Brien, who also were on local committees and would organise local dances etc. in Burpengary.”
In the 1970’s, Kathy worked managing many rental properties in the local area whilst volunteering for various causes including The Caboolture Show Society and organising the annual Show Ball, always hunting for the next ‘Miss Caboolture’.
A life member of the Burpengary Progress Association, Caboolture Show Society and Caboolture Historical Village Association, for many years Kathy held executive positions including Treasurer on these committees, working tirelessly to raise money for each of their causes.
“Most Saturdays were spent in a regular routine of getting her ‘hair set’ - her signature ‘updo’ - then making around 12 loaves of sandwiches, decorating cakes, and sorting lucky door prizes and raffles for the night. Then she would gracefully dance through the night till midnight, only stopping to clean and organise the supper. She really loved this part of her life; dancing being her joy and the glamour of getting frocked up,” said Ms Weedman.
Kathy was involved in the Burpengary Hall Committee who were instrumental in building the ‘new hall’, and was also a member of the Burpengary, Narangba, Deception Bay Ambulance Sub Committee, which over many years raised the money needed to purchase and clear land for a new ambulance station. Once successful, and then with government support, the new ambulance station was built where it still stands today on Deception Bay Road.
The largest volunteer task Kathy probably undertook was for the Caboolture Historical Society. She was with the founding members who helped establish the Village, and assisted and instigated many buildings donated to preserve our local history. The old ‘Caboolture Hospital’ where she and her brother and many other siblings were born, was one of these buildings she fought tirelessly to obtain, with many visits to Brisbane officials.
“This old Hospital attainment was one of her greatest achievements as it held a special place in her heart. Not only did she do much manual labour at the Village painting and restoring the old buildings they obtained, she also volunteered weekly at the Museum greeting visitors, cleaning and other duties,” said Ms Weedman.
Kathy’s volunteer work also extended to the animal world, taking in many stray or unwanted animals over the years, whether domesticated or not.
“She raised an orphaned piglet who thought it was a dog, and was accidentally killed when it chased a car down the road. She loved her many horses, having a mini farm with so many varied animals to care for. She was always busy with this or that, never a person to sit down, but that’s who she was and she wouldn’t have changed it for anything.”
Conversations amongst family on the day of the official unveiling made it clear that Kathy Whitney was more than deserving of the honour of having the new Dale Street park named in her memory, and in recognition of her achievements and contributions to the community.
With Kathy continuing her volunteer work well into her late seventies, it is fitting that Kathy Whitney Reserve is located ‘just over the creek’ from where she resided her entire life, bordering the road that proudly bares her maiden name – O’Brien.