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Shirley Stoecker (1927–2002)

by Paul Arbon

Shirley Stoecker, n.d.

Shirley Stoecker, n.d.

photo supplied by Sue Stoecker

Shirley Stoecker (nee Wilkins) was a role model for young recruits to the Order of St John. For almost 20 years she served the caring, professional and selfless face of St John in the community, responsible for training recruits and, later, the advanced training of members of the State Ambulance Training Cadre.

Many young people who went on to careers in medicine, nursing and ambulance work owe that first spark of interest in the caring professions to Shirley. Her influence still persists in those professionals who often have to make hard decisions in difficult circumstances. The Queen recognised her contribution by promoting her to the grade of Officer Sister in the Order of St John, an award that demonstrates the high regard in which this self-effacing woman was held. Service in the order is voluntary, calling for self-sacrifice, for study and for a willingness to give an immediate response to every call for assistance. It was an environment that suited the challenges that Shirley set for her life’s work and the beliefs she held.

The oldest of four children, her childhood was on a cereal farm at Bowmans, west of Balaklava, and later at Sandy Creek.

She trained as a nurse at Hutchinson Hospital, Gawler, and at Royal Adelaide Hospital and later qualified as a midwife at Queen Victoria Maternity Hospital before working at Daw House Private, Mt Gambier Hospital and the Memorial Hospital.

She is survived by her husband Bernd, whom she married in 1957, daughters Kate and Sue and four grandchildren, Rebecca, Oskar, Jasmine and Ariane.

Citation details

Paul Arbon, 'Stoecker, Shirley (1927–2002)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 21 July 2024.

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