BEHIND every great man there’s a great woman. If that is correct that is certainly true for Lola Menheere, who sadly passed away on April 29.
Lola was farewelled by family and friends at a packed St Peter’s Church last Thursday.
On a sunny afternoon, old Ocean Grove came together to celebrate the life of Lola, the wife of Lofty Menheere and the mother of Anne, Mark and Noel.
Lola Ettie was born in Geelong to her parents Rita Valencia Winifred and Gilbert McKinley McKeown on 25 October 1925. From 1930 she went to school at Swanson Street Primary School and she completed eighth grade by 1939. She began work at 15 at Solomon’s Department store and then later on at Burnside and McClure as part of the war effort.
During her early years she was very fond of, and proficient in, music, learning both piano and singing from Miss Barbara Pigdon. Lola completed all her exams gaining her LLCM. She played in a band with her older brother Ken who also played piano and drums at Wallington.
Lola joined up for army service but they required her father’s approval which he gave, but her mother never did.
Whilst nursing in Heidelberg she cared for Gordon Henry Akers whom she later married, continuing to take care of him. Lola met Lofty, who was born Aalbrecht Antonius Maria Menheere, in 1955. It was the year he brought out his family from Holland and they moved into the house next to Lola’s. It was in December 1955 that Lofty began his own business with one truck. Meanwhile, Lola befriended the Menheere family particularly Mrs Menheere and her daughters.
In January 1956, Lola’s husband Gordon died after his battle with ill-health. So at age 30, and widowed, Lola had dreams of a quiet life to follow, with perhaps a trip to England at some time in the future…Lofty had other ideas.
They were married in September in a quiet ceremony at Christ Church in Geelong. On the morning of the wedding, he had to go and cart a load of loam to help pay for the wedding costs…or for his new shoes!
They began married life in Guthridge Street. In November 1957 Anne was born and in November 1958, Mark was born. Six years later Noel was born.
The family ran Lofty’s Garage on the corner of Bell Street and Wallington Road and continue to run Menheere’s Earth
Their son Mark finished his tribute with: “I look back on her life and see someone who gave so much to so many and asked for so little in return.”
Other speakers included Noel, almost ‘adopted son’ Allan Croke, and Lola’s granddaughter Hayley. It was a constant theme of Thursday with vicar Jill McCoy summarising the speakers saying that Lola seemed to have elastic walls on her house, always finding space to welcome others in.
St Peter’s church was adorned by pictures of Lola as a wartime nurse, mementos of her musical background and a pair of gardening gloves. Those attending left with a sense of the warmth that shone from this Ocean Grover.