Margaret Nora Neesham, fondly known as Peg, left behind more than a hundred children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren and a legacy of enduring grace and unshakeable faith.
The youngest of 13 children, Mrs Neesham was born in Fremantle on March 31, 1922.
At the age of six, Mrs Neesham’s family moved from East Fremantle to Palmyra and built their house opposite Our Lady of Fatima parish within close proximity to the local school, which Mrs Neesham attended from the age of seven.
Mrs Neesham learned to play the piano from Sr Modwina after her mother insisted she learn to play a musical instrument to fill her spare time.
By the time she finished school at the age of 14 she was an accomplished pianist and continued to play for the rest of her life.
It became a regular sight to hear her play at any event needing music including weddings, funerals and confirmations.
Mrs Neesham’s love for music was rivalled and exceeded only by her love for her family and her faith.
In her late teens she met Ted Neesham, a baker by profession, during a day out at Bicton Baths.
The young couple had a long and happy marriage but their first meeting did not foreshadow this as their son Gerard Neesham, former coach of the Fremantle Dockers, told The Record.
“Mum was never a big one for getting her hair wet,” he said.
“Dad pushed her into the water and thought that was the end of that with the look she gave him.” Mr Neesham said his father was persistent in wooing his wife-to-be and would tag along with Mrs Neesham and her older sisters when they would go to the pictures.
“Dad could only woo mum by buying her a block as close to the church as possible,” Mr Neesham said.
The couple married at Our Lady of Fatima parish in 1942.
They went on to have 13 children- seven boys and six girls.
Mr Neesham said his mother committed her life to her faith and family and both of which were entwined.
“She had a statue of Our Lady in her bedroom and every May she would bring the statue down and put it in the back room and we would all pray the rosary.”
When her youngest son Harry served in the Vietnam War, Mrs Neesham prayed the rosary every day; Lieutenant Neesham later said he owed his mother hundreds of rosaries in return.
There was always a bed available for any travelling priest at the Neesham home and the family had a great relationship with the parish priest and the clergy.
Gerard Neesham said Our Lady of Fatima parish priest Father Francis Ughanze told him he already felt that his personal space in the church was diminished without Mrs Neesham there.
“She helped with novenas, made sure everyone got to church – she was a driving force in a quite humble way,” he said.