A tribute to Velma (Vel) Montague 

Vel was born in Melbourne in 1925 and attended the local primary school and Essendon High School. She learned to play the piano from an early age with music becoming a lifelong interest. She was 13-years-old when WWII broke out in September 1939. Upon finishing High School she trained as a comptometer operator commencing in 1942. Forward some 60-70 years and her vocation would best be described as "working in IT as a data entry operator." Vel was a whiz with numbers and possessed a wonderful memory. She worked for the Ministry for Defence during the war years and later for the Australian Wheat Board.

Vel's parents had a small holiday cottage at Ferny Creek near Olinda in the Dandenong ranges about 25 miles out of Melbourne. A train ride from Melbourne either to stay with her cousin at Ferntree Gully or up the mountain to Ferny Creek with her parents where most weekends she would attend the Saturday night dance at Upwey as she loved dancing.

It was at the Upwey dance that she met Keith when she was 17 and he was 19. At 17 Vel was a very attractive young lady, diminutive, and very spirited. They married in December 1947 when Vel was 22. With five years courtship followed by 65 years and three days in marriage they were virtually lifelong mates during their 70 years together. Living in a tent in the back yard of a Melbourne house they were buying when the tenants refused to vacate the house - was a new adventure for a young mother. A solution was found. Join the Snowy.

Yet again Vel took it all in her stride and fortune smiled in the form of accommodation in a Snowy flat at Balgowlah near Manly. These were happy times, enabling Keith to complete his engineering studies and weekends were spent with Lynn in a "stroller" sightseeing around Sydney, swimming and enjoying young married life together.

The resilience of Vel was always evident. She accepted the separation when Keith was posted to Island Bend to work on Guthega Power Station, then a transfer from Sydney to Cooma at which time the road to Canberra was gravel with a mass of corrugations and potholes. The bitumen finished 14 miles out of town in all directions. Nevertheless Cooma was buzzing and she loved it. But Cooma "suburbia" was short lived for her. Off to Cabramurra with a third baby three weeks old in mid August and into snow up to the armpits. What have you done to me this time she asked?

For the next 11 years - living in the regions she hardly saw Cooma again. But with kids at school her interest in community activities developed and she was to work for 25 years as a "Tuck Shop Mum"

Change called once again and a return to Cooma in 1969 after 11 years and many adventures in the regions.

It was later in their lives when the children had grown up and left for Sydney for further education that the opportunity came for Vel to travel with Keith. It was a pleasure to see her experience the joy of seeing something of the wide world which opened her horizons.

She also welcomed with much happiness the arrival of each of her six grand children into the family and she just loved to participate in their young lives. As a wife, a mother, a grandma, a friend and as a wonderful person who saw herself as being "quite ordinary" Vel was far from that. She was a beautiful human being who like so many others - did not deserve dementia - but who lived through the hardship with dignity and grace. She died age 87. Her beautiful smile lives on in the hearts of many who knew her.

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