Celebrating the Life and Legacy of Margaret Ann Guit: A Pillar of Catholic Education 

Eulogy

Thank you all for being here.   

Loving wife, life long companion, best mate and mentor to Dad, loving mother to Monica and I, much loved sister and sister in law, mother-in-law, grandma/nana, friend and teacher  – Mum was much loved by all.   

Mum was born in Ayr, a town in North Queensland, in 1948.  She was not born into a large family, just her and her parents.  Things did not stay that way.  Nature continued to intervene, and mum became the eldest of 9 siblings.  This lay the foundations for a focus on family that endured to the end.   

Mum was a bright student.  This opened the door to adventure and travel.  In primary school, she was awarded a student exchange trip to far Western Queensland.  The highlight of the trip was a ride on a camel.   When she got back to Ayr, she did her best to demonstrate (to her younger siblings) how to ride a camel.  Everyone was in stitches.   

Mum’s academic prowess was rewarded with a scholarship to complete secondary schooling in Charters Towers as a boarder.  She took up this challenge and joked that she “left home in year 8”.  However, Ayr remained a focal point for Mum and family for her whole life. 

Despite leaving Ayre, Mum’s sense of family remained strong.  She was friend, carer, dressmaker and hairdresser to her siblings.  She did a great job fixing the basin cuts bestowed by my grandad!  Mum once cut her sister Mary’s hair in the park in Charters Towers, when the family were visiting Mum at her boarding school.   

Mum ultimately attended University in Townsville and in 1967 she arrived in Brisbane to attend Teachers College.   The travel door had oppened; she went through that door, and it never closed 

At the end of 1970, and recently married, she travelled on her own to the wild lands of Bougainville in Papua New Guinea to track down her new husband.  Dad had set off weeks before.  She flew in a “rattly” little DC3,  was photographed and catalogued on arrival, ate that night with 600 single guys and was then driven up a mountain, through clouds, to join Dad.  To top it off, that night there was an earth tremor.  This would be described as the height of adventure travel today. 

Mum loved seeing the wider world.  As children, we had long car journeys across Australia to see family.   After Monica and I left home – international travel beckoned once more.   Mum loved all natural beauty: from the sweeping plains of the Kalahari Desert and the Serengeti, to New Zealand , Canada, Alaska and only last year “Iceland”.  The magic of Iceland captivated her, but Africa remained a favourite. 

Altogether, Mum and Dad made 6 trips to Africa.  Mum loved the people, the landscapes and the experience of being in a game vehicle tracking and photographing the wildlife.  Safaris meant camp life and dinners out in the bush, protected by armed camp guards to keep one safe from the hyenas and lions.  A little different to our family camping trips from Darwin. 

Perhaps the love of “safari” was fostered by our family driving holidays across the Top End, when Monica and I were young.  Despite having a standard family car and not a four-wheel drive, Dad liked to take bush tracks and go off-road exploring.  Mum was never quite sure of these choices.    Monica and I would distract Mum by pointing out wildlife (generally it was a pelican and occasionally there was a real Pelican), and whilst Mum looked for it, Dad would attempt to cross something like a shallow creek with fast flowing water.  These were wonderful family moments.   

Mum’s  love of natural beauty did not only extend to the exotic. She loved the natural beauty of “Stoneleigh” her home, and even simple rides with Dad in the “gator” (the affectionate name for Dad’s small ride on tractor) out into the local bush.  They had many trips in the gator, with either a cocktail in hand or a G&T, just to enjoy the local sunset or just being in the bush.  Less airmiles than a trip to Africa, but equally special moments. 

Mum could sing, and she loved to.  Growing up, she was surrounded by family who shared this love and ability.  It is a pity her children did not inherit this ability!  As a young teacher in rural Queensland (whilst engaged to Dad and before moving to PNG),  Mum was the lead singer in a band called “Purple Haze”.  Mum sang in church choirs and on our road trips. we would often listen to Mum singing rather than the radio or cassettes (for those who remember cassettes.)  I can see many of you in this room will remember the time before cassettes. 

Mum’s classroom students once asked her how many CDs she had made – upon learning she had been in a band.  Mum explained this was long before CDs were invented.  The class did not believe such a time existed.   

Growing up, our neighbours also got to experience Mum’s joy of singing as she loudly sang along not just to the Beatles but to Neil Diamond, Bruce Springsteen, John Denver and John Fogarty.  When she was in the zone, she was very much “centrefield”.  

Mum devoted her life to the education system: almost 40 years in all.  First in the classroom, then as a school principal and then as a leadership consultant appraising teachers and senior staff.   

Everyone who remembers their own education remembers teachers, not methods and techniques.   As a teacher, Mum is remembered warmly by so many.  Some of you are here today.  Thank you for coming. 

Mum was known for her sense of justice and integrity and took time to allow students to learn.   Naughty kids were sent to Mum.  Kids with difficulties were sent to Mum.  But also your run of the mill normal kid !  Former colleagues have described her “decency”, “integrity”, and “strong moral compass”.  Mum formed strong bonds of friendship with many of her teaching colleagues. 

Even as a school principal she knew every student in the school by name and who their parents were,  even which car they were driving as they came to collect their kids.   

Mum showed us it is never too late to find a new hobby.  She found joy in photography. Her interest began in the mid 90”s when her and Dad lived in Alice Springs for a year and a half.  She took leave from teaching and instead discovered the beauty of central Australia through the lens of a camera.  She expanded her interest in photography later in life,  once she had left mainstream education.  There is a strong correlation between airmiles and photographs with so many wonderful photographs from around the world! 

Mum loved pearls and perfumes; but she was not materialistic.  She took pride in her appearance but was not proud.  She had an understated elegance.  

Mum’s faith was a constant in her life.  It remained strong to the end.  She found comfort in God.   She instilled deep Christian values in her children and lived them throughout her life, right to the end.  Thank you Father Tom,  for taking the time to regularly visit Mum in her final weeks.  It gave her great comfort. 

For my Dad; Mum meant everything.  For my Mum;  my Dad meant everything.  Mum was the “the girl next door” when they met in Brisbane in1967 –  as Mum attended Teachers College.   For 57 years she was his partner and soul mate.  They were married for 54 of those years.  Every day of their time together, Mum stood with Dad and by his side.  She laughed and cried with Dad and gave unconditional support to him.   

They not only explored new lands together – they also did a decent job exploring new wines too ! 

Mum and Dad made their decisions together.  Including the decision –  48 years ago – with a young boy (me) and 7 months pregnant (with Monica), to leave PNG and move to a town called Darwin “just for a few years”.  Back then it had recently been flattened by a cyclone.  Mum never made an easy call.  Darwin became, and remained, home.   

Nothing was too much for Mum, as Monica and I grew up.  Mum taught us the meaning of sacrifice.  From sewing clothes for us when money was tight, to fixing sequins on dance costumes for Monica late at night, to doing her fair share of ferrying us around after school; all the while programming lessons for school and putting meals on the table.   

Despite the distance, Mum stayed connected to family interstate. Mum loved it when they came to visit Darwin and in turn, family felt great when visiting.   She stayed in touch with her brothers and sisters in Queensland and her brother in Perth.  Family did not just mean her brothers and sisters, but wives, husbands, in-laws, and extended family too.  Yvonne and John, her brother John, Carmel, Mary, Peter & Jeanette, Cath & Steve, Trish and Glen,  Andrea and Shayne daughter and son in law, grandchildren, nieces and nephews.   And of course, Mike and Kerry and her brother Raymond, whom she is now re-united with.  She was, naturally, a keen user of Facebook. 

One of the things that she was most sad about was not being around to see her wonderful grandchildren grow up.  Max, Sam, Kit, Harry, Lucy and Jay – she will be watching over you.  It also saddened her to know that she would miss future family celebrations – such as Alex and Jeanette’s wedding later this year.  It will be on the date of Mum and Dad’s wedding anniversary. 

Mum was stoic to the end.  During her entire illness, which included some extended stays in hospital, she did not complain – even when she was in such incredible pain which could not be relieved.  She was gracious, using her impeccable manners through to the very end.   

In her last weeks, she reminisced about the wonderful life she had experienced, that she felt blessed by the family she had, and she wondered this:  had she perhaps made a small contribution along the way?   

Mum; your contribution was not small.   We will all miss you.   

In our grief, let us all smile knowing that you had a wonderful life Mum, and that we were all blessed to have been a part of it. 

Celebrating the Life and Legacy of Margaret Ann Guit: A Pillar of Catholic Education 

Margaret Ann Guit, affectionately known as Marg, was a remarkable figure in the realm of Catholic education, leaving an indelible mark over her 42 years of dedicated service. Born in Ayr, North Queensland, in 1948, Marg’s journey through life was one of unwavering commitment to her family, faith, and the education system. Her contributions have profoundly impacted many, spanning across the Northern Territory and beyond. 

A Life of Family and Adventure 

Marg’s life story is one of resilience, adventure, and dedication. She was the eldest of nine siblings, embodying a strong sense of family from an early age. Her academic brilliance paved the way for numerous opportunities, including a student exchange trip and a scholarship to complete secondary schooling in Charters Towers. Her adventures extended beyond academics, leading her to Papua New Guinea, where she joined her husband in Bougainville, marking the beginning of their life together. 

Marg and her husband shared a love for travel, exploring the natural beauty of places like the Serengeti, Kalahari Desert, New Zealand, Canada, Alaska, and Iceland. Their journeys were not limited to international destinations; they also enjoyed family trips across Australia, creating lasting memories. 

A Pillar in Catholic Education 

Marg’s professional journey in Catholic education began over 40 years ago, with more than 35 of those years dedicated to various roles in Catholic schools in the Northern Territory. Her career spanned numerous leadership positions, including Curriculum Coordinator, Assistant Principal Religious Education, Special Needs Teacher and Coordinator, Deputy Principal, and Principal. Her dedication to education extended beyond the classroom, as she represented the Catholic Education System on various panels and committees, contributing significantly to educational policies and practices.

Work History  

Marg dedicated her years of service to Catholic Education Northern Territory in the following way: 

  

  • 1979 – 1996: St Mary’s School – Darwin City. Classroom Teacher, Special Needs Teacher, Curriculum Coordinator. 
  • 1997 – 1999: Holy Spirit School – Casuarina. Classroom Teacher, Key Teacher, Literacy Coordinator. 
  • 2000 – 2005: St Francis of Assisi School – Humpty Doo. Classroom Teacher, Deputy Principal, Curriculum Coordinator, Special Needs Coordinator, Principal. 
  • 2006 – 2012: Holy Family Catholic Primary School – Karama. Classroom Teacher, Assistant Principal Religious Education, Deputy Principal, Principal. 
  • 2013 – 2020: Leadership Consultant, Catholic Education Office. Undertaking appraisals of staff in leadership roles in Catholic schools (Primary, Middle School, Secondary Colleges across the Northern Territory).She also represented the Catholic Education System on a number of panels and committees.

    Remembering Marg Guit
    Marg was more than just an educator; she was a mentor, a friend, and a pillar of strength for many. Her former colleagues have described her as a person of absolute integrity, discernment, and professional pride. She maintained a balanced and informed view on all matters, always putting the best interests of her students and colleagues first.

    In addition to her professional achievements, Marg had a profound love for natural beauty, which she captured through her photography. Her faith was a constant in her life, providing her with strength and comfort. She was a loving wife, mother, grandmother, and friend, whose legacy will continue to inspire those who knew her. 

  

As we remember Marg, we are reminded of her immense contributions to Catholic education and the lives she touched. Her story is one of dedication, adventure, and unwavering commitment to her values and loved ones. Marg Guit’s legacy will undoubtedly live on in the hearts and minds of those she inspired.