15th May 1953 – 22nd December 1973
Xmas 1973 was celebrated in a most sombre mood by the majority of people in the township of Bendoc and Delegate, when the community learned of the tragic death of a beautiful much loved young local girl, Mareeta Maureen Bent, aged 20 years, only child of Keith and Dulcie Bent of Bendoc.
On the evening of Friday, 21st December, Mareeta was driving home to spend Xmas with her parents at Bendoc, when her car left the road and collided with a tree on the Bonang Highway. Mareeta received severe injuries and was conveyed to the Orbost Hospital. She passed away in the early hours of Saturday morning, 22nd December, whilst being conveyed from Orbost to Bairnsdale by ambulance.
The news stunned the entire district as Mareeta was a most popular girl who endeared herself to all persons, both young and old, with whom she came in contact.
Born in Delegate, on the 15th May, 1953. Mareeta attended the Bendoc State School and after completion of her primary studies, attended Orbost High School for six years, where she gained her leaving Certificate, with passes in seven subjects. At quite an early age Mareeta displayed qualities of leadership and dedication. These qualities were recognised by her teachers and the quiet girl from Bendoc was appointed Girl Captain of Cameron House at Orbost High School.
Mareeta showed great promise in the field of sport – particularly basketball and tennis and in more recent years as a golfer. In 1971 after a brief introduction to the game of golf, she won the Delegate “C” grade championship.
It was not in sport, but in human relationships and the helping of people, that Mareeta’s interest became centred as she matured into womanhood. Her one ambition in life was to become a nursing sister and help the sick. Accordingly she commenced training as a nurse’s aide at Bega Hospital, and after six months left to commence her general nursing at the Central Gippsland Hospital, Traralgon. She had successfully completed her first year of training when her life was tragically cut short. Despite the tragic brevity of her nursing career, Mareeta’s warmth, understanding and love of her fellowman, shone through to tutorial sisters, fellow nurses and patients – particularly the elderly patients who appreciated her kindness and affection. Many patients have written to Keith and Dulcie in heartrending terms, expressing their sympathy and telling in glowing accounts of the work of this lovely young nurse. So too has Matron Kain and the Secretary on behalf of the Directors of the Board of Management of the Traralgon Hospital.
A proud moment in the life of this beautiful young girl came in 1971, when she was crowned Centenary Princess by T.V. personality, “Maggie of Bellbirds” (Gabrielle Hartley) at the Delegate School Centenary Ball.
At St Philip’s Church, Delegate, the church in which Mareeta was baptised and confirmed – on Monday 24th December, the Revd. Peter Bertram conducted the funeral service, and later burial took place at the Delegate cemetery. Several hundred people, young and old, from all walks of life, from centres afar, including Sydney and Melbourne, her Hospital Matron, Tutorial Sister, many of her fellow nurses, friends and schoolmates; all came to pay their last respects to this girl, whose life had made such and impact upon them during her all too brief twenty years.
I am sure that Keith and Dulcie have been in the hearts and prayers of all their relatives and friends and indeed the community during these past weeks. Words cannot express the depth of compassion we feel for these sad parents, at the loss of their only child, a child who one day walked proud and slender in the full bloom of youth and the next day was gone from our earthly sight. Like me, most people can only express their sympathy to Keith and Dulcie by the firm handshake, the unashamed tear, the unspoken word. I hope these wonderful words of Norman Vincent Peale, may be of some comfort – as they have comforted many at times of great loss.
“Grief is love deprived. One longs for the touch of a vanished hand and for the sound of a voice that is stilled. But faith is love restored. Whom we have lost, is not lost at all. We shall be together forever in God’s eternal life. This, at last grief finds its final answer in faith”… and God shall wipe away all tears from your eyes.”