Tribute to Emmie Marie Cornelius

The following is presented by the Merthyr Croquet Club in support of a recommendation that Mrs. E.M Cornelius be considered for inclusion in a Queensland Croquet Hall of Fame.

The story of Mrs Em Cornelius within the world of croquet, whether on a club level, an inter-club level or on a State level, must include a testimonial to her leadership power, her teaching and her organisational skills and to her general charisma.

She joined the Merthyr Croquet Club in 1952 and within fewer than three years she was elected in 1955 to the committee of the Queensland Croquet Association.

In 1956 she presented a request from her club that the QCA take over the lease of the clubhouse and lawns because of the debilitated state of the club in terms of both finances and membership. This request was refused but she requested to make an attempt to revive the fortunes of the club. In an effort to achieve this she persuaded twelve members of the local community to form a committee on a trial basis for twelve months. The committee kept the lawns in playing order by holding jumble sales and other fund-raising functions. The success of this venture in such a short time is again a measure or her enthusiasm and drive.

The club continued to flourish under her leadership and under that of the members she mentored and encouraged. This, moreover, is true despite the disaster that the club had to live through. These included the fact that in 1961 the original clubhouse was burnt to the ground. Thanks to her and her family the necessary funds were raised – £1,446/6/- from building and content insurance. This enabled a new building to be raised using the skills and good will of her husband and the son as builders and the energies of the club members to save money by painting the new building. Em was still very much at the helm of club affairs in the early 1974 when the club was flooded. Again this required further refurbishment from the limited funds of the club.

Em was President of the Merthyr Club between 1957 and 1959, 1966 and 1969 and finally 1990 to 1992. In addition to this she was generally an official on the committee of some sort in between these periods. Certainly into the 80’s and 90’s until her death in 1995 her leadership continued as a major influence in croquet as testified by the host of current players who she introduced to the game both at Merthyr and elsewhere. Names such as Jo Myers, Bernardine Hanman and Beryl Flowers may be recalled. A measure of the strength maintained by the club under her guidance through the 70’s and 80’s is similarly indicated by the pennants still retained from that period with many more lost through damage cause by the floods.

It was a natural conclusion at the time that she should be President of the QCA between 1967 and 1971. During this period all major state events, including ones of both national and international levels were hosted by her club.

Between 1956 and 1990 she managed the annual QCA event for 3rd and 4th division players. In 1966 thanks largely to her drive and enthusiasm Merthyr hosted the Australian Croquet Association’s National Conference. In 1968 Merthyr was the headquarters of the International MacRobertson Shield games played between England and Queensland and New Zealand and England.

It is natural that she became the first Life Member of the club and that in 1988 a presentation trophy was made to her by the QCA “In honour of her past presidencies and her dedicated service to croquet and valued training of croquet players throughout the State”