Della's guiding values

DELLA McGraw, OAM, contributed to her community in a variety of ways throughout her lifetime.

Her service included involvement in local government, health and tourism, but arguably her most influential role was her six decades of service to Guiding.

Mrs McGraw died last week, aged 80, and will be farewelled at a funeral service at the Cohuna Uniting Church today at 1.30pm.

Her dedication to the Cohuna and wider regional community was recognised a decade ago when she was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia for her services to the community through a range of tourism, local government and youth organisations.The award recognised 60 years of service to Guides Australia and more than 30 years of work on a variety of community organisations.

Mrs McGraw is mourned by her husband, Geoff, a long-serving volunteer firefighter, mother and mother-in-law of Dianne and Geoff, Ashley and Sharon, Dale and Robyn, nine grandchildren and six great grandchildren.

She once said that Guiding had always been a very important part of her life.

"I was an only child living in the country just after the war when I was introduced to Guiding and the principles and directions of Guiding changed my life. The same principles are just as important today and I am proud to be associated with them", she said after being awarded the OAM.

Mrs McGraw's leadership in Guiding has touched the lives of many girls.

Carole Hall, who succeeded Mrs McGraw as a Guide leader, said that she was a committed person.

"She upheld the principles and values of Guiding and believed that Guiding provided so many opportunities for young girls and women," she said.

"She was a wonderful example."

Kerang Guides leader, Julie Davey said that Mrs McGraw was "always there for the girls." 

Mrs McGraw once said that Guiding instilled in her a belief that residents need to be a part of the community to make it better for its people.

That also translated to her strong Christian faith, reflected in her involvement with the Uniting Church.

Mrs McGraw's association with Guides started in 1949, leading her into holding a variety of leadership roles at group, divisional and regional levels.

Although she retired as a leader in 2003, succeeding local leaders often sought her counsel and ideas.

The year her involvement in Guiding ceased, she became president of the Friends of Tree Tops committee that managed Scout campsite beside the Gunbower Creek, which was also used by Guides and other community groups.

The principles of service Mrs McGraw learnt in Guides influenced her in an ongoing community involvement. She served as a Gannawarra shire councillor between 2000 and 2003, two years on the Cohuna Tourist Association and five years as a board member with the Golden Rivers Tourist Association.

She also served as a Northern District Community Health Service board member, was involved with Mallee Family Care and was later a Cohuna District Hospital board member.

Former Guide colleague, Hazel Radley, who will be conducting her friend's funeral service, described Mrs McGraw as "an amazing citizen."

"She was a wonderful community person who had a great interest in anything to do with Cohuna and had a great knowledge about Guiding," she said.

Mrs McGraw once said, "We are only on this earth for a short time, but it has always been important to me that I leave having made life a little better for those who follow".

Community loss. Della McGraw, OAM.

Community loss. Della McGraw, OAM.

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