13 June 2023

Mourners fondly farewell beloved matriarch Clare Nowland, a woman of faith

| Gail Eastaway
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Crowd gathering outside church

Several hundred people attended Clare Nowland’s funeral in Cooma today. Photo: Gail Eastaway.

The township of Cooma and surrounding districts turned out in force today (13 June) to farewell Clare Nowland, a much-loved community member who died after being tasered by police at her nursing home.

Several hundred mourners attended a requiem Mass at St Patrick’s Catholic Church. They included family and friends as well as the Member for Monaro Steve Whan, Snowy Monaro Mayor Narelle Davis, and a police presence.

The Mass was conducted by Fr Mick McAndrew, former parish priest for the Monaro diocese, with whom Mrs Nowland had prayed for about eight years.

Mrs Nowland, 95, died on 24 May, a week after allegedly being tasered by Senior Constable Kristian White at the Yallambee Lodge aged care facility.

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She had spent a week in Cooma Hospital surrounded by family before her death.

Mrs Nowland was a much-loved mother, grandmother and great-grandmother. She was the matriarch of a large family, with her eight children, Michael, Denis, Bede, Gerard, Jenny, Lesley, Kerry and Gemma, providing their mother with 24 grandchildren – Simon (dec), Kym, Kylie, Andrew, Paul, Cindy, Scott, Rochelle, Marl, Tami, Leah, Scott, Tim, Jake, Clare, Lauren, Anna, Jaala, James, Ingrid, Daniel, Kynan, Montee and Emalee – and 30 great-grandchildren.

Mrs Nowland herself was one of 16 children. She would tell her family of always sitting down to a meal with 14 family members when she was growing up.

In his eulogy, Mrs Nowland’s eldest son, Michael, gave a detailed account of his mother’s life from her birth in Grenfell to the family’s life in Kensington and Clare and husband Pat’s eventual move to Cooma in 1956, where Pat found work on the Snowy Scheme.

Clare and Pat had four children when they relocated to Cooma and four more soon followed.

Michael recalled living in a busy and caring family home, with his mother always finding “room for one more”.

In the 1960s, Mrs Nowland taught herself to type so she could find work to augment the family budget.

She was employed by the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Scheme in 1967 and remained there until 1987.

Pat died of a heart attack in 1976, leaving Mrs Nowland as the breadwinner.

The family enjoyed holidays at Tathra, where accommodation ranged from a big tent at one stage, to an on-site van that the family used for the next 30 years.

Michael described his mother as a tomboy and an athlete who enjoyed basketball, tennis, softball and golf.

A golf “tragic”, she contested local competitions, but also travelled around Australia with her golfing friends.

A woman of spirit, Mrs Nowland celebrated her 80th birthday skydiving with two broken ribs after an accident the morning of the dive. She skydived again five years later so she could experience it without the pain of the broken ribs.

Mrs Nowland was a woman of deep faith and a member of the St Patrick’s Catholic Church family. She was heavily involved with the St Vincent de Paul Society, assisting with the set-up and running of the St Vinnies shop in Cooma.

She was also a volunteer at the Sir William Hudson Memorial Centre, helping with assisted feeding at meal times, helping residents who could not feed themselves.

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In 1995, Mrs Nowland was named the Cooma Anzac of the Year for her tireless work assisting others.

She had many friends due to her welcoming personality. Shortly after her 90th birthday, she had to leave the family home to go into residential care, but accepted her change in circumstances and enjoyed her life there.

While at Yallambee Lodge, she would still attend monthly Mass and enjoyed receiving visitors, with whom she would chat, especially about her beloved family.

Mrs Nowland was popular with residents and visitors alike, enjoying the company and social interaction.

She was fond of the small garden she managed to create at the hostel, and the family was happy that Mrs Nowland was being looked after.

In prayers offered at the Mass, the family included the residents of Yallambee Lodge, for the families who have been touched by dementia, as well as the doctors, nurses and ambulance officers who looked after Mrs Nowland.

“We give thanks to our local community for their enormous love and support as we felt you all grieving with us these past few weeks,” the family said.

Sen Const White is facing several charges relating Mrs Nowland’s death and is due to appear in Cooma Court on 5 July.

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