It is with great sadness that we say farewell to Carolyn Bethwaite. It is no exaggeration to describe her as an extraordinary person.
Carolyn lived all her all-too-few 68 years to the fullest. She is described variously as “Sweet Caroline” (sic) (in the words of Neil Diamond), “warm Carolyn” (in the words of her innumerable friends and family), and “Remarkable Woman” (represented in the letters “RW” on the back of a key chain her friends made for her). And collectively those epithets capture her essence.
She will be remembered for many things, but two that perhaps stand out most are her warmth and her zest.
First, her warmth – more than most, she had an open mind that saw the good in others. She had a magnetism, augmented by deep perception and profound empathy, which reached out and touched everyone she knew. She was gracious and generous in all things. She was a remarkable wife, mother and friend, who displayed great love and support to everyone in her life. Over the last two years, that warmth that Carolyn brought to so many relationships was radiated back at her with so many expressions of love and support, flowers that brightened her life, and fan mail that came in almost daily from around the world.
Second, her zest – while she was ever modest and understated, in reality she was a serial high achiever. She was an incredible source of energy and drive, displaying tremendous leadership and organisational skills. She was School Captain and Dux at Ravenswood, an Honours graduate in Social Studies, a talented social worker, a wonderful wife and mother, a Distinguished Toastmaster, a consummate linguist, a fabulous leader of the guides at the Art Gallery of NSW, and a credible sailor (no surprise). She had a global view, underpinned by insatiable curiosity and tremendous love of adventure. She was constantly listening and evaluating, learning and teaching.
She will be remembered for all those things and more. But perhaps her greatest achievement was the way she carried herself since her diagnosis in January 2016. The strength and courage she showed in the face of such a shock and unfathomable adversity was exceptional. She was incredibly brave and strong through the most arduous of journeys that would test the spirit and strength of a saint. Yet through it all, she maintained such grace and composure, that was an inspiration to all who knew her.
Carolyn will be greatly missed by Mark, Campbell, Luci, her broader family and her myriad of friends. She was an extraordinary person.