Ethel May Brown JOHNSTON

Female 1915 - 1999  (84 years)


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  • Name Ethel May Brown JOHNSTON 
    Born 1915  Dalby, Queensland, Australia Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Gender Female 
    Died 27 Jun 1999  Brisbane, Queensland, Australia Find all individuals with events at this location 
    • Wesley Hospital
    Obituary 29 Sep 1999  [1
    Gatton Star 
    • Ethel DITTON (nee Ethel May Brown JOHNSTON), a lady well known in the Lockyer Valley as a news reporter for 45 years, passed away in the early hours of Sunday, June 27, 1999. She is sadly missed by those who knew her best. Ethel Ditton was born in Dalby in 1915. She always wanted to be a nurse and left home at 17 in 1932 in the middle of the Great Depression to train at the Brisbane General Hospital.

      She graduated and moved on to nurse in Sydney where she obtained her midwifery certificate. She also nursed in Melbourne and Victorian country districts before returning to Brisbane. It should be remembered that Ethel nursed in the period before penicillin, an era contemporary nurses admit is almost beyond comprehension. During the war Ethel nursed in Cairns and Townsville and gave birth to two children. Ethel returned to nursing for several years as matron of the Tabeel Home in Laidley. In the last months of her life she returned to Tabeel in the capacity of visitor and reader to the aged residents.

      Ethel began her married life in Laidley in 1945 where Bob was health inspector for the two shires of Laidley and Gatton. In 1946 Bob and Ethel began writing local news items for the local papers and the ABC radio. Ethel was described as "Laidley's link to the world" over the years 1946 to 1991 when her reporting of shire council the envy of neighbouring local government bodies. Bob stepped down from the partnership in 1983 and Ethel reported alone with great enthusiasm for another eight years. Payment for news items in the earlier days was very modest; she once recalled they received one shilling for 17 lines of news print.

      Ethel and Bob took two notable vacations away from Laidley. The first was in 1970 when they did a round-Australia tour in a Toyota Hi-Ace. They returned with a swag of anecdotes including the story of meeting a man who was travelling with his old kitchen wood-fired stove installed in his caravan. In 1978 they crossed Russia and Europe on the Trans Siberian Railway. This journey was written up by Ethel and reported in the Gatton Star in several weekly editions.

      Ethel's husband Bob passed away on September 6, 1991, aged 91.

      During her many years as a journalist, Ethel wrote what might be described as the social history of the Valley and her stories received wide readership. As with all her reporting her writing brought her loyal friendships and some enmity. Up until her retirement in June 1991 she wrote for The Star, The Queensland Times, the ABC, The Chronicle, the Telegraph and the Courier-Mail. She was a dedicated journalist and on many occasions burned the midnight oil following the monthly council meetings, the local show and sports events. She once said: "I try to be objective .. in a small town like this, but I've got so that when the phone rings, I find myself hoping it won't be a tragedy."

      For relaxation, Ethel was an avid reader, a keen rose grower, and always enjoyed a game of golf. She was an excellent conversationalist and always had the courage of her convictions.  Following her retirement as a news reporter and the passing of her husband, Ethel continued to live in her home in William Street, Laidley. She died of cancer in the Wesley Hospital in Brisbane. She is survived by one daughter and two sisters.
      (Contributed by JIM NICHOLLS)
    Person ID I1918  Colston & Wenck families in Australia
    Last Modified 11 Oct 2009 

    Family Robert Albert DITTON,   b. 9 Mar 1900, Mackay, Queensland, Australia Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 6 Sep 1991, Laidley, Queensland, Australia Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 91 years) 
    Married 1944  Queensland, Australia Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Children 
     1. Robert DITTON,   b. Queensland, Australia Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. Yes, date unknown
     2. Living
    Last Modified 19 Mar 2007 
    Family ID F210  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

  • Event Map
    Link to Google MapsBorn - 1915 - Dalby, Queensland, Australia Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsMarried - 1944 - Queensland, Australia Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsDied - 27 Jun 1999 - Brisbane, Queensland, Australia Link to Google Earth
     = Link to Google Earth 
    Pin Legend Address Cemetery Farm Town Parish City County/Shire State/Province Country Region Not Set

  • Sources 
    1. [S194] AUS-NEWSPAPER-EXTRACTS Mailing List, (http://rootsweb.com/), Gatton Star - 1999 Sep 29 - Page 6 - OBITUARY - Ethel May DITTON,  I Jul 2006.