WALSHE, ADA MINNIE nee DUNN
Ada Dunn was born in Hawera on the 4 August 1892, the daughter of John and Mary Elizabeth Dunn nee Gill. As the result of a childhood accident she became blind in one eye.
In 1923, Ada married Charles Henry Clive Walshe, grandson of Ann Evans, who had
nursed Titokowaru in the early days of Hawera’s settlement. On his way back from serving in the First World War, Clive became ill with an influenza virus, and from complications, was an invalid for the rest of his life. This virus, which was brought back with the soldiers, became the 1918 influenza epidemic.
Ada was a collector of antiques and period clothing, and this interest in costuming lead her to an active part in the Hawera Repertory Society's wardrobe section. As wardrobe mistress for many years in the Hawera Savage Club, she and her helpers were responsible for a wide variety of costuming. In recognition of her services, the club made her an honorary "wahine", a unique honour and possibly the only one in New Zealand at the time. For the 1932 Hawera Jubilee, Ada organized and many of the costumes for the parade.
Ada was a member of the women's section of the Hawera branch of the National Party, the Hawera Women's Division of Federated Farmers, the Hawera branch of the League of Mothers, the women's section of the RSA, the Hawera Red Cross subcentre, the Hawera Old Folks' Association, the Mothers' Union and the Women's Christian Fellowship. She was a member of the Women's National Reserve until it was disbanded.
As a member of the Church of England, Ada organised many functions to assist church work. For many years she conducted sales of used clothing for the Women's Christian Fellowship. She washed, ironed and remade garments for these sales. In addition to this work for her church, she was also a worker at the Calvary fairs.
During World War Two, Ada was engaged in many patriotic activities. She was also in demand as a pianist at concerts and entertainments of all kinds, and trained an old-time dancing group for the Hawera Main School jubilee ball which Ada also organized. She also organized concerts for the entertainment of residents at Ngahuru, with her children performing. At one time Ada did a great deal of work for the Hawera Municipal Band.
Ada ran the Dominion Boarding House in Wellington Street, and then from 1934, ran St Elmo’s Boarding House in High Street (next to the Hawera Club) until it was taken over as a maternity home by the Hawera Hospital Board in 1946. Ada Walshe died on the 9 February 1966 at Hawera aged 75 years and is buried at the Hawera cemetery.
Obituary “Hawera Star” 11 Feb 1966
Marie Ward, New Plymouth (daughter)
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