Obituary – Marie Tehan

Marie TehanA Sad Loss for Melbourne Cancerians

Melbourne Cancerians have expressed their extreme sadness at the loss of their inaugural chairman and ACRF trustee, The Hon Marie Tehan, following a short illness, aged 64.

Marie was the champion behind the development of the Melbourne Cancerians Committee, which she took on board from her close friend and former parliamentary colleague, the Hon Ann Henderson. Ann had the vision for the Committee and it was Marie who made it all a reality following Ann’s untimely death.

Tributes have flowed from all over Victoria for Marie, remembering a strong, articulate and brilliant woman, who, above all, placed her family at the top of her priority list.

A graduate of Melbourne University, finishing in the top three in her law/arts degree, Marie married Jim in 1963 and settled in regional Victoria. Being a mother of six children was no barrier to Marie to opening a legal practice in Mansfield, which quickly grew into a flourishing entity. With an enormous capacity, Marie also involved herself in a number of humanitarian plights during the 1970s, partly inspired by her compassion and commitment to Catholicism which carried through more recent involvements with the plight of asylum seekers in Australia and participation on the boards of the St Vincent de Paul Society, the Refugee and Immigration Legal Centre and the Catholic Commission for Justice Development.

During the late 80s Marie turned her mind to politics, and, as with other areas of her life, proved her enormous intellect and capacity, by being elected to the seat of Central Highlands. She was swiftly promoted to the Victorian Shadow Ministry and by 1992, had successfully transferred to the Victorian lower house seat of Seymour, and been appointed Minister for Health. Charged with restoring Victoria, as part of the Kennett Government, Marie tirelessly pursued service improvements throughout the portfolio that not only revolutionised the health system – her reforms would also go on to be implemented in other states. Marie was the Minister for Conservation and Land Management between 1996 and 1999, where she was instrumental in the development of Parks Victoria. As in all other areas of her life, Marie was also well respected and highly accomplished in the field of politics – gaining a high level of respect from both sides of the Victorian Parliament.

Above all Marie was a constant leader, source of inspiration and comfort to her family. Along with her passion for sport, especially the Richmond football club and classical jazz music, Marie was a true individual whose charm, wit, intelligence and compassion will be missed by all.

Melbourne Cancerians remember their inaugural chair as the driving force behind the development of the Committee and will continue Marie’s hard work and vision with the same energy and drive that she herself brought to the group.

Marie is survived by Jim, her six children and eight grandchildren. She was honoured with a state funeral at St Malachy’s Church in her home town Nagambie.