Edith Dizon-Fitzsimmons was first female pilot in the Philippines and also made cultural contribution to Shepparton.JOHN LEWIS March 19, 2014 4:55am
To her family, Edith Dizon-Fitzsimmons was an inspiring mother and grandmother with an adventurous spirit who spread music and joy wherever she went.
To her many friends and the wider Shepparton community she was also an inspiration — a music teacher, an early supporter of migrants, a passionate promoter of Filipino culture and the driving force behind Shepparton-based music groups and cultural projects.
Edith was born in 1922 in the western Philippines province of Capiz.
As a young girl she was given a chance to learn music, which sparked a lifelong passion.
Edith also discovered a love of flying and went on to become the Philippines’ first female pilot — flying commercial flights for 25 years.
In 1958, she was one of five women pilots to fly across the United States as a member of the Amelia Earhart Ninety Nines International Organisation of Women’s pilots.
Her love of flying never diminished and she celebrated three birthdays — her 70th, 75th and 80th — with parachute jumps.
As a widowed mother of six children she left a politically volatile Philippines in 1970 to work as a public relations officer for the Mission of St James and St John in Melbourne.
Her musical talent was obvious and she became the organist at St James Cathedral, often playing fundraising concerts for the mission.
Edith moved to Shepparton in 1973 after marrying Radio Australia employee Ray Fitzsimmons.
Together they planned and realised their dream of building a Philippines House at the then International Village.
Today, it is one of only two buildings remaining at the former site in north Shepparton. Edith also founded the Goulburn Valley Organ Club and the Filipino-Australian Friends Association.
Long-time friend and association member Bill McCarthy remembered Edith as a great support for Filipino women newly arrived in Australia during the early 1980s.
‘‘She was an inspirational friend and adviser for many Filipino women here. She was a contact and a mother to them,’’ he said.
In her mid-70s, Edith travelled to the United States to complete a masters degree in music therapy.
When she returned to Shepparton in 1995, she enrolled for a PhD in women’s studies at La Trobe University.
She also taught music therapy and formed the Goulburn Valley MultiCultural Youth Singing Bell Choir.
In 1998, she published a book, The Sky’s The Limit, a collection of her writings promoting her conviction there are no boundaries in life.
In 2000, Edith’s face appeared in a series of postage stamps as part of Australia Post’s Face of Australia collection to mark the turn of the millennium.
In 2002, she was named Victoria’s Senior Australian of the Year.
In the same year she was the subject of a Central Philippine University documentary on Filipinos who have successfully settled in Australia.
Joy Dizon described her mother as larger than life.
‘‘She travelled the world and was an inspiration to everyone,’’ she said.
Son Dennis said his mother set an example of hard work and love for her family when their father died young in the Philippines.
‘‘She worked three jobs to keep us all at school. But she always made time to be there at graduations. That’s when I realised the importance of the work ethic,’’ Mr Dizon said.
Edith died peacefully aged 91 at Shepparton’s Acacia House, Tarcoola on Saturday, March 15.
She leaves six children, six grandchildren and two great-great grandchildren.
Shepparton coach Brad Campbell and his young Bears are looking forward to tackling the might of Kyabram at Deakin Reserve in Goulburn Valley Football League.
With Dookie sitting fourth on the ladder the Bears expected a hard contest on their home deck and when they kicked the first two goals it was game on.
Tatura Community House held its annual High Tea fundraiser at the facility on Tuesday, with a full-house present to enjoy a sumptuous morning tea, good conversation and relaxing time together.
Ross Morgan’s dreams of reliving his go kart racing days with his son have been shattered.
Rochester Historical and Pioneer Society hosted an afternoon tea to recognise long-standing members Barrie and Flora Griffin and John and Margaret Harley.
Ky export gets first Navy Blues win.
Scone Equine Hospital relaunches local veterinary practice.
A beauty pamper day has raised a whopping $18k to assist local lady Terri Bevan with her ongoing medical costs associated with her brain tumour
A planning scheme amendment to allow the expansion and redevelopment of the IGA supermarket at Heathcote has been approved by the Victorian Planning Minister Richard Wynne.
Cross-border rivals Cobram and Barooga football netball clubs will contest the 38th Cobram Courier Shield this weekend.
An exciting three-hole playoff saw Virginia Lange take a narrow win in the Deniliquin Ladies Golf Championship last Thursday.
The G-MW Murray gravity irrigation system has received 35 per cent and the Goulburn system 42 per cent of allocation from July 1.
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