Miss Beryl Johnston passed away on 11 August 2021 (her 92nd birthday) after a short illness and will be missed by an enormous number of people with whom she had a relationship through her many interests.
Readers of the Queensland Times (QT) would have enjoyed for more than forty years regular articles on the history of Ipswich written by Beryl. She was an avid researcher and often used her early life in Ipswich to suggest story ideas that she would spend hours in the Ipswich Library and in the pages of the QT investigating. Her Saturday column, Times Past, was a favourite of readers from 1975 to 2020 when she became too ill to continue writing.
Beryl was born in Ipswich and her first job was as a salesperson at the iconic T.C. Beirne, one of the major department stores in town together with Cribb and Foote and Bayards. She would be inspired to write at times by current events that had something similar happen in the past.
Ipswich Little Theatre was a passion for Beryl, both performing and writing about theatre in her first column for the QT in the 1960s. She was made an Honorary Life Member of the Ipswich Little Theatre Company on 13 June 1971, in recognition of her long and meritorious service to the Company.
Her interest in Ipswich history began when she enrolled in an adult education course on the subject in 1975. That was also the year Beryl joined the Ipswich Historical Society. Her long and active membership and her contributions to the Society were recognised when she was made a Life Member on 11 December 1999 and then a Patron of the Society in 2007. She remained a beloved Patron until her death this year. Beryl’s extensive collection of research material is now with the Ipswich Historical Society.
Beryl was not one to keep to just one organisation. She had been active in her earlier life in music, choirs and the Eisteddfod movement until history “took over” her life in 1975. On 10 December 1991 she was made an Honorary Member of Toastmasters International Ipswich – yet another group who will be mourning her.
In 2013, on 15 October, Beryl Johnston was inducted into the Ipswich Hall of Fame for her significant contribution to the conservation and promotion of the cultural heritage of Ipswich.
A memorial service for Beryl will be held for close family and friends at Cooneana Heritage Centre on Sunday 12 September at 10.30am, Covid restrictions permitting.
The story behind resident QT history buff by Rob Williams QT 14 January 2017
Thank you for the memories, Beryl by Andrew Korner QT March 2020