LIVING LIFE TO THE FULLEST: Marion McLay, 96, passed away on April 27 after fulfilling a number of business ventures across regional Queensland.
LIVING LIFE TO THE FULLEST: Marion McLay, 96, passed away on April 27 after fulfilling a number of business ventures across regional Queensland.

Trailblazing businesswoman leaves mark on community

A BUSINESSWOMAN, often considered to be ahead of her time, Marion McLay was the voice Stanthorpe’s older community didn’t know they needed.

Actively involved in Stanthorpe’s QCWA, the gardening club and the RSL, Marion was known to put the needs of the community above her own.

On April 27, at 96-years-old, Marion passed away after suffering from three successive heart attacks.

Marion’s daughter Margo said the tough love her mother gave was appreciated by many in the community, who always knew where they stood.

“It wasn’t easy (being her daughter), it was an unconditional love but that wasn’t in my mother’s era,” she said.

“If you were lazy or didn’t have any get up and go, or thought about social justice issues, you could get her wrath.”

Born and raised in Kerang, Victoria, Marion’s business career was spent in the northern New South Wales region of Yetman before retiring to the Granite Belt.

Business ventures and community spirit dominated most of Marion’s life.

“At around 80, she bought the Codfish Hotel in Yetman and Oasis Hotel in Yelarbon,” she said.

“She was passionate about making her pubs pivotal community meeting places for those little towns.

“She was the oldest woman in Australia to obtain a hotel licence.”

The compassion of doctors at Stanthorpe Hospital made Marion’s passing at the height of coronavirus restrictions easier, Margo said.

“The doctor at the hospital allowed us all to go and spend 15 minutes with her before she passed,” she said.

“It was a humanitarian gesture.

“We were really fortunate that the moons lined up and that we had that Sunday with her.”

Famous for her Australia Day street parties and New Year’s celebrations, Marion’s passing has left a hole in the community.

“She would easily have had 200 people at the funeral, we had so many calls,” Margo said.

“It would have been really big and everyone would have been really celebrating a life really well lived.

“She just did everything on her own terms, and it just drove us insane sometimes.”