THE thought of attending a funeral fills most people with dread. Farewelling a loved one is always an emotional experience and one that many people prefer not to think about in their day-to-day life.
Queanbeyan woman Christine Walters has played a major role in more than 4000 funerals during her 38 years as a funeral director, and for many locals she’s become like a member of the family.
She started as a funeral director with O’Rourke’s Funerals in 1974 and moved to Tobin Brothers 18 years later.
Walters said she’s made a lot of good friends through her work and social life in Queanbeyan, friends she’ll be sad to leave when she moves to the Gold Coast at the end of the month.
‘‘Over the years I’ve made a lot of good friends through my work, and I’ve been able to help a lot of people at a pretty sad time of their life, so it’s been very rewarding for me,’’ she said.
‘‘It will be very sad to leave. You don’t just pack your life up and go. This will be a big change for me. But I’m looking forward to spending more time with my family and I’ll still be working as a funeral director for one of our companies at the Gold Coast,’’ she said.
As well as her professional work, Walters has been a key contributor to Queanbeyan Netball over the last 21 years, with 10 years as president of the association. She’s also been a major sponsor of the Queanbeyan Tigers Football Club for 14 years.
She’s also a mother of two daughters, and a proud grandmother of five. Part of the reason she’s moving to the Gold Coast is to spend more time with her young grandkids living up north.
‘‘Managing 20-odd staff and two businesses has been very rewarding for me, but there comes a time when you have to think of your family and that they want to spend time with you as well,’’ Walters said.
But ultimately it’s her work as a funeral director that many local residents will remember her for, particularly her dignified professionalism and caring nature. Walters said she felt privileged to get to know so many Queanbeyan families and assist them through some of their hardest times.
‘‘The reward has been those families who keep coming back to you. That’s been a big thing for me in my life; that people respect what you do. ‘‘I feel that I have a caring nature, and as time’s gone on I’ve become quite close to a lot of families that I’ve been there for several funerals. ‘‘They can be rough times, but I wouldn’t not want to do it if you know what I mean,’’ she said.
As for what she’s learnt from the many funerals she’s been a part of: ‘‘I’ve learnt that you should live every day to the fullest and tell people how you feel about them, because you never know what tomorrow will bring.’’
A farewell is being organised for locals who want to say goodbye to Christine Walters and wish her well. Contact Tony Wood on 0478 318 635 for details.