by Cheryl and Sharon Gray
Celebrating the life of Robyn Gray (nee Leslie)
The Aboriginal community in Toowoomba has celebrated the life of Robyn Cheryl Gray (nee Leslie) who passed on 17 October 2019, aged 67.
Aunty Robyn was a much-loved and respected elder who gave much of her time to support and mentor students, from as young as kindergarten through to university.
She connected instantly with students as she shared and passed on her stories, as well as her skills in arts and crafts and cooking.
Despite suffering a long-term heart condition, she was a regular at Indigenous school events and helped mark special occasions such as graduations and NAIDOC and Reconciliation Week celebrations.
She was also active with the Goolburri Aboriginal service in Toowoomba as one of the elders recognised for her contribution to the community. The many Goolburri events and trips were fond memories for her, which she spoke of often.
Robyn was born in the Yumba in Charleville in outback Queensland.
She was the third born of 10 children to Eric Stanley Leslie and Dorothy Elizabeth Leslie (nee Beale) who married in Gunnedah New South Wales in 1947, later moving to the Yumba where they lived alongside many other Aboriginal families.
Robyn lived in Charelville until her late teens and worked as a Jillaroo on cattle stations in the surrounding area.
She later moved to Toowoomba where she married and had two daughters.
She worked as a domestic at the Toowoomba Base Hospital and later worked in aged care, special needs and as a cook.
It was in 1983 that she relocated to New Zealand where she was diagnosed with a serious heart condition and needed a double bypass heart surgery.
After the birth of her granddaughter, Robyn moved back to Australia and played an enormous role in her granddaughter’s upbringing and education.
Leading cardiologist Dr John Hill took over her care and she remained under his guidance until the last year of her life when she was also diagnosed with another terminal illness.
She regularly sold her arts and crafts to private buyers and at local markets and also managed food stalls with Indigenous dishes at various cultural and multicultural festivals.
Robyn will be remembered for her love of road trips, entertaining and cooking, and as a carer who listened and fostered lasting friendships across the full spectrum of life.
She is survived by her daughters Sharon and Cheryl, her granddaughter Neenah and her young grandson Hamza.
The family thanks all who attended the memorial gathering held at Gummingurru at Gowrie Junction on 3 November 2019, and to all who held a special place in her heart. May she rest in peace.
Robyn Gray with her grandaughter Neenah during one of her many travels. Image: supplied
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