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‘I don’t know how the town will do without her’

VALE MRS GOOMERI: Community members have paid tribute to former Citizen of the Year, Pam Brunjes, pictured at a Melbourne Cup race day in Gympie in 2012.
VALE MRS GOOMERI: Community members have paid tribute to former Citizen of the Year, Pam Brunjes, pictured at a Melbourne Cup race day in Gympie in 2012. Craig Warhurst

"FOR me she's Mrs Goomeri. I don't know how the town will get on without her."

The comments of Goomeri Lions secretary Betty Hetherington summed up the feelings of a community in shock, after the sudden death of tireless volunteer, Pam Brunjes.

Mrs Brunjes, 71, was Gympie region's 2010 Citizen of the Year and was well known throughout the region, including for her work in the Gympie View Club, to help disadvantaged children (through its support for the Smith Family charity).

She died at the scene of a two-vehicle head-on collision on Tuesday afternoon, on the Wide Bay Hwy, between Goomeri and Kilkivan.

Her husband Mervyn was in shock on Wednesday, as the couple's son Craig and daughter Fiona rushed home to support him.

"He just said he didn't think something like this would ever happen," Mrs Hetherington said.

View Club president Elsie Matthews said Mrs Brunjes was the last inaugural member of the club, which celebrated its 20th anniversary last year.

Also the Goomeri Show society secretary, she was remembered fondly by Gympie MP and Kilkivan grazier Tony Perrett Wednesday.

"She was an absolute stalwart of that community," Mr Perrett said, "a local icon. The Brunjes are really nice people," he said.

"The Brunjes family has lived in the Goomeri region for many decades," Mr Perrett said.

"They ran a successful livestock and fuel transport business before they retired some years ago.

"I am absolutely shocked by her sudden death," Mr Perrett said.

Police said it appeared two vehicles collided about 1km east of Wide Bay Creek about 3.47pm.

Mrs Brunjes was the sole occupant of one of the vehicles.

A man and a woman in their 60s were travelling in the other vehicle and were transported to hospital with non-life threatening injuries.

The police Forensic Crash Unit is investigating the crash.

Mrs Brunjes was remembered on Wednesday as a modest hero in many ways.

She responded with surprise when named Citizen of the Year.

"I'm just totally blown away by this," she said.

The comment reflected an unpretentious charm, even in response to winning the region's highest honour for 2010.

Master of Ceremonies at that event, Cr Rae Gate, said Mrs Brunjes had shown "a selflessness and willingness to support our community at any level.

"Her contribution to the Goomeri community spans 40 years and covers a wide range of activities and organisations.

"Her genuine concern and support for the welfare of individuals and groups across the region is ongoing."

Mrs Brunjes said the award was "beyond my wildest dreams, but I am so honoured." She paid tribute to her family and friends for backing her community involvement

Mrs Hetherington said Mrs Brunjes had also been secretary of the Goomeri Show Society "for a long time," as well as treasurer of the Lions Club.

"She was involved in nearly everything and always too willing to help anybody.

"Nothing was too much trouble. Just the other night the Lions had a big party at her place and she just took it in her stride. I don't think we've got used to the fact we won't have her anymore.

"Anyone in Goomeri would say the same thing.

"I don't know how the town will do without her.

"On a lighter note," she said, "we used to call her the Queen of Pavlova.

"She made the most beautiful pavlova you could ever wish for. None of us could make anything like it. She was a lovely lady and so talented - craft, cooking - anything she turned her hand to."

Gympie Times

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