Maureen Enid Glastonbury was born in the Victorian city of Ballarat on October 27, 1930, but Maureen was destined to remain a name reserved for officialdom.
Instead, family and friends took the initials of her full name and came up with the name with which she marched through life: Meg.
The Glastonbury family were headed by a stern patriarch, Kevin, a General Practitioner and Methodist who identified strongly with all things conservative.
A man of his era, he believed that daughters were to be married off well, and if they had careers they should be short ones in traditional professions which should be left behind when the more serious responsibilities of home and children came along. He was more likely to call his daughter Maureen than Meg.
While she had many of the characteristics of her upper middle class upbringing, Meg longed to break free from the conservative mould and was eventually able to do so. She was not one to be kept down for long.
Frustrated in her early ambitions to become a doctor like her father (she was made to study nursing instead), her escape from her father’s strict regime began when she met a young man named Des Colquhoun at an Adelaide party in 1950 (or thereabouts).
Their whirlwind romance was a mild surprise in conservative Adelaide society as Colquhoun was not the stuff of which an accepted suitor was made.
Although he had attended the right schools, courtesy of his lawyer uncle Colin, his father was working class and in the 1950s had no particular career prospects as he was rebuilding his life and health after spending several years as a prisoner of war of the Japanese in Changi.
Colquhoun himself may have seemed to have no great prospects either. Instead of being on the way to a career in medicine, the law, or stockbroking, he was instead a lowly copy boy at the local newspaper, the Advertiser, and the best he could hope for was a career in journalism.
Meg’s romance with Colquhoun survived his year long absence for a “Grand Tour” to Europe, and he returned to her and the couple were married in 1953 at Kent Town Methodist church in Adelaide.
If her father’s estimation was that she may not have married well enough, the union with Colquhoun was a happy and lasting one: passionate and full of jokes, wit, parties and wild dreams, some of which actually came to fruition.
It was not without its turbulent periods, largely as a result of Colquhoun’s perhaps excessive love of partying, but the two became one of South Australia’s “power couples” of the 1970s and 80s.
Soon after their marriage the young couple moved to Melbourne for Colquhoun’s work and Meg revelled in the city’s sophistication, a new circle of friends, and the distance from her parents.
The couple were unable to naturally conceive children, but were able to create a family through adoption, adding Meredith (born 1959) and Lachlan (1962).
From its unpromising start, Des Colquhoun’s career was taking off and the defining period in the family’s life came in 1962, soon after the addition of Lachlan, when they sailed to London where Des had been appointed European correspondent for the Herald and Weekly Times group.
The three years in London and one in New York were a golden period for Meg.
It wasn’t always easy, as she was looking after two young children while her husband worked nights and caroused continually with other journalists, but she made local friends and the family enjoyed holidays in the UK and to Europe in a Bedford Dormobile camper.
There was even a romantic interlude with her husband to Copenhagen, during which time the kids were fobbed off to a place known as “Farmer Brown’s.”
Back in Australia by early 1967, Meg and Des began creating another dream, their family home on five acres at Hackham, south of Adelaide.
Today Hackham is part of sprawling suburbia, but in 1967 it was semi-rural and full of farms and vineyards which supplied the growing wine industry at McLaren Vale.
Although modest by modern standards and built on a tight budget, the home they created became not only a happy centre for the family but a magnet for extended family and friends – always the location for big Christmas celebrations and bbq’s.
The distance from Adelaide became an issue, largely as a result of Des’s night work, and the family moved to inner city Adelaide in 1974 to a house in Simpson Parade, Goodwood.
The Simpson Parade house rapidly became a social hub for a distinct Adelaide community of the time, a crossroads of journalism, hospitality, politics, the arts and winemaking, and Meg was in her element as the hostess. She had a unique ability to make people relax and feel at home, combining her social skills with a love of catering for the enjoyment of large groups.
During this time she began working part time with the St John organization in occupational therapy, contributed to charity functions as part of the Adelaide City Council Lady Mayoress Committee, took up pottery and enjoyed bridge with a close group of friends.
The family continued to travel, spending much time in the Flinders Ranges north of Adelaide and also undertaking a round Australia trip when Des had long service leave. Later, when the children were old enough to look after themselves, there were holidays in Europe with friends.
Des retired early, in late 1988, giving the couple two decades in retirement together. While this was a happy period, Meg’s health deteriorated as a result of her chronic arthritis.
And although she had stopped smoking cigarettes for many years, she took them up again with a vengeance and while she did love smoking, it was to the detriment of her health.
Her death in November 2004 at the age of 74 was a surprise, but perhaps her stoicism disguised her true state of health.
It was always thought that Des, with his heart condition and propensity for episodes of ischemic strokes, would pass away first, leaving Meg to a long period as a widow but it played out very differently.
Meg died at home on a Sunday after lunch, with Des at her side.
She is remembered as a vibrant and generous woman whose social and hospitality skills were able to bring people together, over many decades.
She loved her children fiercely and loyally, and left a formidable legacy which will be cherished by her family for generations to come.