“Yet it is no mean destiny to be called upon to go on for a man who laid down his life, as Christ did, to save mankind from the power of the Beast.”
Jessie Mary Vasey OBE CBE (1897 – 1966)
Founder, War Widows’ Guild of Australia
These words were spoken by the founder of the War Widows’ Guild of Australia, Jessie Mary Vasey, after the death of her husband, Major General George Alan Vasey, on 5 March 1945.
With her natural ability as a leader and her charm and intellect, she encouraged women to start a craft guild where weaving and other handicrafts were taught to members to augment their meagre pensions. The Guild provided friendship, counselling, child-minding and above all an environment of mutual support where members could relax and feel secure.
This was the beginning of a powerful lobby group which today is consulted by Governments on all matters concerning war widows.
The Toowoomba Sub Branch was the first group to be formed by Mrs Vasey in Queensland on 8 August 1947. Four days later, on 12 August, the Queensland State Guild was formed – other state Guilds having been established earlier at a meeting chaired by Mrs Vasey and attended by two hundred women in the Brisbane City Hall. Later the state Guilds were federated and Mrs Vasey became the Federal President and remained so until her death on 22 September 1966.