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Pearl Marie Lean (1931–2017)

Marie Lean, n.d.

Marie Lean, n.d.

Comrades and friends were saddened to hear of the passing of Party stalwart Marie Lean, who passed away in Adelaide on 26 July. Marie was born at Katoomba in 1931. Her father was a member of the Communist Party and she followed first by joining and becoming an active member of the Eureka Youth League.

She attended the World Youth Festival in 1946 held in Bucharest, she was part of the Australian dance group which performed at the festival.

Marie joined the Communist Party in 1951 at the age of 20 years a total of 66 years membership. She was also a founding member of the SPA and has been a SA State Committee member since 1971 until 2014. She was secretary of the SA State committee in 1993 to 2000.

Marie was elected to the Central Committee at the Party’s 7th Congress in 1992 and a member of the CC Executive. She was a conscientious member of the CC and its Executive and made valuable contributions to the work of these two bodies.

An active member of the Union of Australian Women, Peace activist particularly in the Ban the Bomb Campaign, and Anti-Vietnam war Campaign.

Growing up in Sydney and her love of ballet she performed folk dances at factory gate meeting before party speakers addressed workers.

One of her first jobs was working at the Hotel and Restaurant Union Offices doing clerical work which allowed her time to do some party work. It was also a valuable area to get to know workers who had been exploited.

Arriving in Adelaide from Sydney, Marie quickly joined in party work, active member of the Western Branch, became secretary of the branch. Marie put out party leaflets at the gates of two large factories in the Mile End area, Perry Engineering and Horward Bagshaws.

Among Marie’s responsibilities was to organise a Junior Eureka League (JELs) activity including monthly visits to interesting places where they could learn about the working-class struggles and history. They visited the Acarlaide ship in Port Adelaide and were given a tour by the Seamen’s’ Union, visits to museums and art galleries and had annual Christmas beach camps which Dos Rooney had charge. Marie also attended the Eureka Youth League camps each year to ensure they ran smoothly with a mixture of political exercises and sporting activities. She also ensured the hungry participants were fed and retired at a reasonable hour.

Marie was an active member of the Union of Australian Women (UAW) became president when Beryl Miller left for Sydney and when Margaret Pamment became the new secretary, Marie gave great support to Margaret.

At demonstrations and marches such as the Trade Union Labour Day March (now defunct) May Day March, annual Women’s Equal Pay march, and anti-Vietnam war marches Marie was conspicuous marching, with either one of her children – Michael being the first then David and finally Peter completed the picture.

Politically Marie never took a backward step, she did not know how. She was a good debater on working class affairs and on inter-national events.

For a number of years Marie work in an early childhood centre doing clerical work. She represented the centre on a state government committee. She always had a Socialist working-class opinion on issues and was selected by the committee to attend an international conference on early childhood development in Romania.

In later years Marie became a qualified fitness instructor for the elderly. She was a natural doing this activity with a background in ballet and even gymnastics. In Sydney, she was talked into the state gymnastic competition by friends and having no previous experience or background, she was put into the state B grade competition which she won, becoming the NSW B grade champion.

There were two types of classes for the elderly, water classes and chair classes for those less mobile. The charge for attending these weekly classes was a few dollars to cover the cost of hiring the pool and cover the cost of equipment she purchased such as flotation, beach balls ropes, etc. No money was ever made out of the endeavour: in fact, it usually cost Marie money. That’s the sort of women she was.

Marie worked tirelessly for the Communist Party for 66 years for the benefit of all the working class.

Original publication

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Citation details

'Lean, Pearl Marie (1931–2017)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 20 May 2024.

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