Pamela Marion Retz
Remembered for her charm and courage
WARRANDYTE is mourning the passing of Pamela Retz, who died on December 28 last year, following a long and heroic battle with cancer. She was 59.
Pamela Marion Retz was born on December 17, 1944 to Bruce and Ellen Russell of Carlton. She lived with her grandparents at Cottle's Bridge and Coburg, then with her parents in their new home in Bakers Road, North Coburg.
She commenced school at Merlynston State School in 1951 and in 1955 she passed First Grade Pianoforte with honours. She began her secondary schooling at Fawkner High School in 1957 and matriculated from Coburg High School in 1962, specialising in science subjects.
In 1963, Pam began working at the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories and commenced studying for a diploma in applied science at RMIT. She worked on flu vaccine, met Dieter Retz and they married on April 16, 1966. In those days, married women were prohibited from working in the public service, so Pam left CSL and obtained employment as a laboratory technician at Ringwood High School, where her charm, energy and professional expertise helped transform the science department.
Dieter and Pam bought their first home in Longfellow Avenue, Mooroolbark and Pam decided to study for her teaching qualification, but before she could begin, their first child was on the way. Natalie Louise was born on January 10, 1969 and Laural Andrea arrived on July 30, 1971.
Pam Retz turned 27 the day the family moved to Hamilton Road, Warrandyte. Eight days later they were sharing Christmas drinks with neighbours. So began Pam and Dieter's long and rewarding life of friendship and service within the Warrandyte and Kangaroo Ground communities. Pam flung herself wholeheartedly into this life, serving on the kindergarten committee, as a member of the Kangaroo Ground Primary School committee, president of their mothers' club and working with the pony club.
Not content to limit her life to community work, Pam undertook part-time studies in Australian History, and when Dieter began his own business, Pam decided to work beside him, undertook the firm's secretarial work and at the end of 1980 was awarded a Diploma of Secretarial Practice. Working together, she and Dieter began learning about genealogy and researching family history. Ultimately, in June 1999, Pam published her first book, My Moreland Family, and commenced her second.
In July, 1988 they moved to their new home in Menzies Road, Kangaroo Ground, and in October that year they purchased a holiday house at Coolum Beach in Queensland.
Pamela Retz is perhaps best known locally for her outstanding support of Dieter in the many roles he has undertaken and positions he has held in the Lions Club of Warrandyte. Between 1994 and 1997 she worked as a volunteer at the Lions Club opportunity shop, and when called upon to provide corsages for the ladies on the night Dieter was installed as Lions president, she attended florists' classes with Moira Hughes, Elaine Greatrex and Lori Marchingo, followed by professional training at Ireland's, ultimately going into business, styling themselves "Tigerlillies". Her outstanding community service was recognised when, in June 2001, Pam received Lions' highest Australian award, the James D. Richardson Honour Award for support of Lions Club events and projects.
When Dieter was diagnosed with MS, Pam's positive attitude was a great help during that time of change and adjustment. It was that same positive approach to life that saw Pam manage her several bouts of cancer so well over more than 10 years. She responded well to surgery and other treatments to enjoy long remissions after a holiday to the UK, Ireland and Europe in 1993. However, since May last year, the fight has been on in earnest and Pam's courage, openness and honesty have been very evident.
She passed away peacefully at Warringal Private Hospital, surrounded by the love of her family and friends.
(Based upon material contributed by Dieter Retz, Moira Hughes and Rev Mark Dunn.)
From Warrandyte Diary, no. 361, February 2004, page 18
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