The Sunshine Coast rugby league fraternity has today paid its respects to the late Beryl Wacker (nee Thorpe):
Ashley Robinson, a local league identity on the Sunshine Coast, said: “I have to say that Beryl and I never always saw eye to eye, if I said she was stubborn it would certainly be an understatement, but it doesn’t change what she did for me and many others.
“I first came across Beryl in the 70s via All Whites footy club where she ended up after spending stints in Ingham and Rockhampton married to a policeman. Her son Jon played for All Whites and she was a bar maid at Alex Hotel run by legendary local publican Roy Thompson. A few years later Jon came and played at Maroochydore so we became team mates rather than arch enemies which worked out better for me as he was a lot tougher than me. With Jon coming to Maroochydore there were a couple of bonuses; Beryl came as well and Jon was a local copper at Maroochydore which at times was very handy as well! Jon is now a detective superintendent in the Qld Police Force.”
About that time Roy bought Mooloolaba Hotel and that’s when Beryl really came into her own in what ended up arguably the best public bar on the coast with Beryl the unofficial boss of everything that happened there. When she wasn’t pouring beers, and directing traffic at Mooloolaba Hotel she was at the Swans footy ground in the canteen, selling raffle tickets and supporting the Swans. Ashley ended up managing that great old pub when Bernard Power owned it but he never managed Beryl. When she was on she was the Boss; big tough fishermen, scaffolders, brickies and concreters, all men’s men, that weren’t scared of anything respected Beryl immensely. She could diffuse the most delicate situations by sending Ashley to the office and then having a quiet but stern word to the trouble makers and it would all go away rather than Ashley inflaming the situation.
Peter Boyce recalls how Beryl was the backbone of All Whites Nambour and Maroochydore and tells the story that when he arrived on the Sunshine Coast in March, 1977, the first person he met (as it was then known as Chifley’s Hotel), was Beryl Wacker working behind the bar.
Given that Peter was working in Nambour, she said ‘go and play for All Whites’, a Nambour club where incidentally Norm Meninga (Mal’s father) was coaching Reserve grade.
When he lived at Alexandra Headlands, he and his playing mates had many a night and day at Beryl’s home with Beryl, her children, and her adopted children. They were all adopted by Beryl, and for many players of that period they have lost their second mother.
She was a wonderful person and a great source of guidance for players in their younger days.
There are many who will be forever indebted to Beryl for her kindness, her direction and her patience.
When it came to the club, there has never been a more dedicated and faithful worker. She was exceptional and knew almost everyone who came to the grounds or who had contact with her.
She always embraced the sport and wanted to make sure that rugby league prospered and thrived on the Sunshine Coast.
There have been many great workers at clubs, but Beryl was the stand out volunteer and club person. Beryl is well remembered on the Sunshine Coast; she was Maroochydore RLFC Member of the Year in 1994, Life Member in 2004 and the Wide Bay Rugby League QRL Volunteer of the Year in 2004.
She ran the bar for Sunshine Coast RLFC at the grand final for a quarter of a century and at the Stadium in the early years of the GF being played there. For many years she would be found at the Mooloolaba Hotel and then Pub Mooloolaba selling meat tray raffle tickets to raise money for all sorts of needy.
This was always important to her, even years after the apple of her eye Jon stopped playing. Beryl spent more than 45 years volunteering for the sport of rugby league and asked for nothing in return.
She did not undertake this work for many “pats on the back”. She did it because she believed it was part of her giving back to society and part of her remaining involved in the community.
Boyce said: “We all know that this day comes to all of us but I can tell you that when I heard of Beryl’s passing, whilst sad to hear the news, I could not but help thinking of what a wonderful person she was and memories of Beryl’s kindness and dedication have certainly overtaken the loss of Beryl. She is, and was, one of a kind.”
Robinson recalled: “She had a quick wit and would stand up for those less fortunate. People who were often quick to form an opinion of others were put in their place quickly. To Jon, his sister Kym and their families, may Beryl rest in peace, she certainly left an indelible mark on many lives.
Beryl Wacker (nee Thorpe):
Born in Alpha Central Queensland, July 29, 1927
The service for the late Beryl Wacker will be held on Friday, May 4 at Gregson & Weight Chapel, 139-159 Wises Road, Buderim on the Sunshine Coast.