Vale Myrtle Yarran

Posted: April 6, 2019 in Uncategorized

I would like to give thanks to God for the life of Myrtle Yarran who is being farewelled in a memorial service this week . It was a privilege to meet Myrtle some years ago for the first time, and to realise the close link there has been between her family and mine. 

Just a few days before she died, I visited Myrtle in Armadale Hospital and prayed with her and read the Scriptures. I also gave her two photographs. One of my mother holding Myrtle as a baby, and another of a group of school children, including Myrtle and my father who was her school teacher at the time. 

Beth Douglas (nee Weir) with Myrtle Yarran (nee Mead)

My Dad, Wilf Douglas, and my mum, Beth Weir, both lived and worked at the tiny wheatbelt railway siding town of Badjaling when they were single missionaries, but later married and worked there again as a married couple.

When Dad first went to Badjaling in 1938 as a 21-year-old man he was given the job of being the school teacher although he had never been to high school himself. Myrtle was one of his students. He had come out from Belfast as a child and sent away from his parents to Fairbridge Farm School, so he came to Badjaling with his own personal experience of a stolen generation. 

Wilf Douglas (back row third from left) and Myrtle Mead (front row, second from right)

Badjaling and the people there including the Meads, Yarrans, Garletts,  Winmars and Granny McKay became his family, Myrtle’s dad Bob Mead was one of the first people that Dad met and he taught dad his first Noongar words, as well as introducing him to Noongar culture.

This was to be the start of a life-long journey by my dad, learning Aboriginal languages around Australia and documenting them for future generations. 

Thankyou Myrtle, for the the wonderful influence you have had on both our families over so many years.

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