A life devoted to her region
By SALLY GORDON and EMMA CORNFORD
WELL-LOVED Clarence Valley councillor Joy Mathews has lost her battle with cancer.
The 61-year-old died at the family's home at Maclean yesterday between 6 and 7am.
Her husband, Dr Robin Mathews, said Joy died peacefully in the company of immediate family members.
Her death marks the end of a protracted battle with a brain tumour, first diagnosed in December 2003.
Since that fateful day Joy has been in and out of the public spotlight as someone who continued to actively pursue her passion for family, community and the environment while facing imminent death.
On March 18 this year Joy announced publicly her brain tumour had grown.
Despite this, her spirit remained high, voice upbeat and presence at council meetings colourful.
Dr Mathews said yesterday that only two weeks ago Joy was pushing for a family getaway.
"We ended up at the Bright Side of Life, which is an amazing place behind Murwillumbah," Dr Mathews said.
"We had a couple of days there and on the morning we were due to leave, she said she wanted her family called, but it was explained to her ... that her constitution wouldn't let her go that quickly.
"But it was after that she went down hill."
Wendy Rose described her best friend as a good listener, great communicator and someone who cared for everyone in the community.
Nearly every Friday night Joy and Wendy would make a point of catching up. The women enjoyed a lasting friendship spanning 22 years.
"She was a generous person who was caring with her family, friends and the community," Mrs Rose said.
Clarence Valley Council mayor Ian Tiley said he had the distinction of serving the longest of all the councillors with Joy.
"Joy's untimely passing is a tragic loss and our thoughts and prayers go to her husband Robin, her son Angus, her daughter Sally and her many family and close friends."
"Joy was passionately committed to her public role as a councillor, to her environment and to her community. She really made a difference and will be sadly missed."
Clarence Valley Council general manager Stuart McPherson said a by-election would be held in the next three months to fill the position left vacant by Joy.
Throughout her 15 years in local government Joy was a redoubtable community campaigner.
For her efforts she topped public polls three times in elections for the former Maclean shire council and was the council's first female mayor.
Without doubt Joy's death will rekindle a host of happy memories for family and friends and leave a hole in the heart of many in the Clarence community.
Joy leaves behind her husband Robin, her brother Angus Carruthers, children Sally and Angus and their partners Brian Hawkins and Susan Challenger.