Gwenneth Violet Wray (nee Shaw) was born in Finch Hatton North Queensland to parents Frederick Shaw and Laura Gilliam.
Gwen spent her childhood and teenage years climbing the waterfalls and swimming in the creeks and gorge pools of Pioneer Valley. As a young woman, Gwen left her small home town and moved to Sydney where she worked at various jobs and then travelled further afield to work in New Zealand and Tasmania.
Wherever she was, Gwen played the piano. In her Hatton days she played for church services and dances and she continued to play for dances in New Zealand and Tasmania during the time she was there.
In 1951 Gwen married Tim Wray and moved to Batemans Bay, where she quickly established herself as an accomplished pianist, playing at local clubs and halls for dances, for weddings and at ANZAC day services on an iron-frame piano that would be loaded onto the back of a truck and driven to the cenotaph.
Gwen also accompanied visiting artists who performed at the Soldiers Club, including Kamahl and Janice Slater. She would even invite these artists to rehearse at her home prior to the show where she would feed them with whatever was at hand, be it a sugar pineapple or chicken stew. For many years Gwen also played for lessons at the various ballet schools in town, including Michael Andersons and in later years STEPZ. She played for ballet examinations and for countless ballet concerts and recitals, with many hours devoted to rehearsal.
Gwen was a founding member of the Bay Theatre Players which was initially known as the Batemans Bay Cultural Society. She was pianist and musical director and also acted in several performances.
Gwen also directed the Batemans Bay Public School choir for many years leading it to high accolades at choral festivals. Gwen loved working with children, fostering in generations of piano students a love of music in all its forms.
In 2009 Gwen's incredible, decade-spanning contribution to entertainment in the Eurobodalla Shire was honoured. She received an Australia Day medal and was Citizen of the Year.
Living in her own home and still driving to town on a daily basis only weeks before her 97 th birthday, Gwen was an iconic local identity who will be missed. As will be her impeccable dress sense. Hats off to you Gwen.