Joy Drescher has been remembered by her family, friends and political peers of all levels and sides of government as a vibrant character who loved her family and wasn’t afraid to speak her mind.
Her life was celebrated with tears and laughter at a rousing requiem mass led with warmth, familiarity and even some humour by Fr. Kevin Njoku at her own local parish, St Mary’s Church.
St Mary’s was brimming with people from Beaudesert and beyond, gathering around Joy’s beloved family to celebrate her full, colourful life and share sadness at her passing.
Beaudesert Rotary and BADCAP formed a guard of honour for Joy, and members of BADCAP had lovingly painted her coffin hot pink and covered it in peacock feathers, happy photos and Joy’s own wonderful writing.
The crowd lingered to keep sharing their memories of Joy after the service, and there was a steady hum of loud, happy conversation and laughter as the family welcomed the community to continue celebrations afterward at Jymbilung House.
Joy, who had been battling breast cancer for two years, passed away on 28 November after a characteristically full day of public speaking and time with people she loved.
At Joy’s funeral, her daughter Madonna Guy spoke of her mum’s full life.
“Born a Cunnamulla girl in 1944, she spent her childhood either on sheep stations or schooling in Wyandra, the 2nd of 11 children to Blanche and Alan Stapleton. Mum always loved the fact that she was part of a huge family, with eight sisters and two brothers,” she said.
“Mum did everything to the best of her ability, and loudly! Speaking, singing, laughing, sneezing, fashion!
“In 1979 she won her first election as town councillor, over the next three decades she spent three as councillor and two as mayor, having the distinction of being both the first female mayor of Beaudesert and the last Mayor of Beaudesert Shire Council before being renamed Scenic Rim. Mum’s life was about people, friendships, community, but most of all, family.
“Joy Stapleton, Sheil, Drescher, the girl from Cunnamulla, one-of-a-kind, blossomed from her humble beginnings to a woman who’s touched so many people’s lives. She will be missed. She is an inspiration.”
Joy’s granddaughter, Nikki Mathews, read heartfelt words on behalf of Joy’s widower and husband of 30 years, Doug.
“From Doug your loving caring husband who will never feel whole without you, ‘You made my life complete. We were opposites but we just worked so well together. You kept me young at heart. I love you and I will see you again. Rest in Peace cancer free and full of joy. Look over me and keep me safe. I love you, my love’.”
Remembering Joy: Memories from Community Members
“Joy hardly ever missed a local dance. She always noted down who won the Monte Carlo, the raffle and who won Miss Tamrookum, etc. (Gathering info for her column in The Times). I took this picture at a Rathdowney dance about four or five years ago. She was nursing Dennis Wernowski’s dog. She was quite blunt with her opinions, but she was friends with everyone. Our Scenic Rim Writers’ group will miss her vibrant presence at our meetings.” – Gary Moloney
“The Melbourne Philharmonic Orchestra was touring regional centres in Queensland with a show which mixed classical music and comedy and was playing to a packed house in the Shire Hall.
One of the stars was a very gifted mime artist. While the other comedy interludes received Joy’s usual enthusiastic reaction it was the mime on the unicycle who really cracked her up, and of course that was contagious and ended up with the whole hall in stitches every time he appeared.
At the end of the performance the conductor came to the microphone and shielding his eyes from the spotlights said in his very formal conductor’s voice, ‘Madam, I don’t know who you are, or where you are seated, but from the bottom of our hearts, we thank you’.” – Brendan Dever
“RIP Joy – a Beaudesert legend, the last Mayor of Beaudesert Shire (until 2008), Rotarian, raconteur, wearer of great hats and the most identifiable and infectious laugh going around.” – Jon Krause MP
“I was standing beside Joy at the gym (she was on the treadmill) and I asked her what she’d done to pi** off Peter Beattie. She looked at me and said “Sue, I just have to walk into the room”.
Joy was a ray of sunshine to all who knew her. She took an interest in my family and was a mentor to my son. I’m grateful that I had the opportunity of knowing Joy and sharing many laughs with her over the years. Her loss will be felt greatly.” – Suzanne Jones
“Such a lovely, caring, bubbly, fun lady. She always had time to say hello. Always smiling and happy. I remember her laughing and joking at the dances. I hope she and my mum Rhondda enjoy some more laughs together again now. May she rest in peace.” – Dana Glenn
“She was a brave and unique woman who lit up a room. I laughed at her saying that she thought it was funny that people congratulated her when her portraits won the art prizes at the Beauy Show. She said, “I didn’t do anything! I just sat there!” – Sharon Ritchie
“One in a million. Was lucky enough to work under you as Mayor, enjoyed seeing you at the local dances and hearing your laugh at all the one-liners while on the stage with BAMS, made performing all that much sweeter. RIP, and all our care to Doug and your families. Irreplaceable.” – Sharyn Dent
“One of my favourite memories was doing Groove (dance class) with her at the gym, such a character and full of stories.” – Erin Menchin
“As her last CEO at Beaudesert Shire Council, I counted her as a friend and great asset to the region. She will be missed.” – Alastair Dawson
“Joy you will be sadly missed by all the wider community. I miss your infectious laugh, upbeat clothes and hats and our chats. You fought the good fight.” – Leigh Morgan.