ACT News

Tributes flow after Joanna Abernethy's death on US cycling trip

A Lyneham mother and school teacher who died while cycling across America in honour of her hero has been remembered by her friends and family as a compassionate, generous and loving woman.

Family and friends held a memorial and thanksgiving service on Saturday to celebrate the life of Joanna Abernethy, 51, who died on August 9 during an American cross-country cycling trip. 

Aunt happy: Niece Millie Abernethy says some words as friends and family remember Joanna Abernethy.
Aunt happy: Niece Millie Abernethy says some words as friends and family remember Joanna Abernethy. Photo: Jeffrey Chan

A tribute from Ms Abernethy's sister, Leah, described her deep love for her daughter, Orly, who was her sister's proudest achievement. 

Ms Abernethy's niece, Millie, read a tribute from Orly describing her as the "best mum in the world" who had made her childhood so much fun.

Proud mum: Joanna's mother Win Abernethy laughs as she remembers a happier moment with her daughter, as friends and ...
Proud mum: Joanna's mother Win Abernethy laughs as she remembers a happier moment with her daughter, as friends and family remember the school teacher who died while cycling in America. Photo: Jeffrey Chan

Millie said her aunt had been doing something for herself and others and was probably at one of the happiest points in her life.  

Friends remembered Ms Abernethy's lust for life, love of adventure and travel as well as her burning passion for world peace and desire to make the world a better place.

Her brother Mark paid tribute to his "dear sister" and her incredible journey in the world and how she touched their lives. He said she had embodied an "incredible compassion" and he could still remember her face smiling warmly. 

Ms Abernethy was remembered as a gorgeous girl with "wild curly hair" and a friend who always let people know they were loved. 

Messages remembering Joanna Abernethy, who died while cycling in America.
Messages remembering Joanna Abernethy, who died while cycling in America. Photo: Jeffrey Chan

Ms Abernethy was on a 6200km solo cycling trip across America from Astoria, near Portland, Oregon, to Washington DC to pay tribute to Martin Luther King jnr.  She was also fundraising for

several charities including the King Centre in Georgia which helps disadvantaged children get a good education. 

Joanna Abernethy cycled across the United States as  a tribute to her hero, Martin Luther King jnr.
Joanna Abernethy cycled across the United States as a tribute to her hero, Martin Luther King jnr. Photo: Supplied

A close friend of Ms Abernethy  plans to complete the trip in her honour. 

An extract from Dr King's I have a dream speech was read at the memorial service at the Australian National Botanic Gardens.

Ms Abernethy was remembered as a charitable and passionate woman, who walked across America in the name of peace more than two decades ago. 

Childhood friend Cynthia Coop said Ms Abernethy was like a sister to her and she touched many people's lives.