Tributes flow for Valda Jeffery, 74, of Tharwa, killed in Christmas Day crash

Tributes flow for Valda Jeffery, 74, of Tharwa, killed in Christmas Day crash

The family of long-time Tharwa resident Valda Jeffery has remembered her as deeply loving and steadfastly loyal, and said a wealth of good memories had helped ease the sadness of her death on Christmas Day.

Mrs Jeffery died in hospital, aged 74, after a two-car crash on Outtrim Avenue in Calwell last Friday.

Long-time Tharwa resident Valda Jeffery.

Long-time Tharwa resident Valda Jeffery.

Photo: Supplied

She had attended a service at nearby St Mary's in the Valley church with her daughter, Denise Blayden​, and son-in-law, Phil, that morning and was driving to a family Christmas celebration when the crash happened.

Two adults and two children from the second car were taken to hospital but they were not seriously injured.

Valda and Ron Jeffery on their wedding day in 1960.

Valda and Ron Jeffery on their wedding day in 1960.

Photo: Supplied

Police suspected Mrs Jeffery could have suffered a medical episode that caused her to veer into oncoming traffic, although an initial coroner's report was inconclusive.

"Looking back it was lovely that Mum, Phil and I were together at the Christmas service on the morning of Mum's accident, and also that myself, two of her grandchildren and one of her sisters were able to see her briefly at the hospital before she passed away," Mrs Blayden said. "She knew we were there with her."

​Family and friends – including Mrs Jeffery's two children, eight grandchildren and a great-grandson – were preparing to gather at a funeral service in Queanbeyan on Thursday.

Mrs Blayden remembered her mother, who most recently lived at Isabella Plains, as a kind and caring woman who was loved and respected by everyone who knew her.

"She deeply loved her family and friends, was steadfastly loyal and always strongly supportive to any of us in need."

Mrs Jeffery grew up on a farm near Michelago and lived in Tharwa for 47 years after she married into the village's well-known Jeffery clan.

She showed "amazing resilience, tolerance and patience" as she cared for her husband, Ron Jeffery, through many years of illness until his death in 2000, her daughter said.

"She missed him terribly and was ready to join him at any time. I know her spirit has now entwined with Dad's and that she is happy, peaceful and complete."

Mrs Blayden also reflected on her mother's enduring Christian faith and love of cooking, keeping active and gardening.

"To Valda, gardening and her garden was one of life's pure joys – she would spend hours each day pruning, watering, chopping, planting, mowing and, of course, picking flowers."

Former Tharwa Primary School principal Peter Henry said Mrs Jeffery cleaned and tended to the school's gardens for about 10 years in the 1990s, so she could be close to her home as she cared for her husband.

"It was never done quite as well as Val did it," he said.

Mr Henry remembered her as "always positive and always friendly" and said many people would be saddened to hear of her death.

"She was always in the garden at school or in her own garden, it was just immaculate and green and manicured perfectly. She was much-loved in the village."​

Mrs Jeffery was one of 15 people to have died on ACT roads this year, with four deaths in the past two weeks.

That's five more fatalities than the 2014 road toll of 10 and the highest number of road deaths recorded in the ACT since 2010.

Megan Gorrey

Megan Gorrey is a reporter at the Sydney Morning Herald.

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