Hundreds of mourners turned out to farewell iconic local, Denise Goddard on Tuesday.
While the funeral was held at St Mary’s Cathedral in Darwin, Tennant Creek was well represented, with current priest, Father John and former priest, Father Joseph from Christ the King Catholic Parish amongst those officiating at the service.
Denise, whose Aboriginal heritage is Kaytetye, was born and raised in Tennant Creek although ongoing health problems took her away from the town she loved for years at a time.
Most recently, Denise had been living in Darwin so she could access medical services but she missed Tennant Creek and always considered herself a local.
There was lots that bound Denise to Tennant Creek and she returned whenever she could to catch up with family and friends.
Friends were scattered throughout the Barkly and beyond because Denise and her husband Steve had worked in the bush for many years, in grader camps and on cattle stations, and were entrenched in the cattlemen’s community.
Denise also served in the NT Police Force for more than 20 years, mainly in Tennant Creek but also at surrounding communities including Ali Curung and Avon Downs; and later in Darwin.
Despite serious health problems that began in her twenties with a rare auto immune disease that resulted in kidney failure, Denise lived life to the fullest. She refused to buckle, no matter how dire predictions from the medical fraternity were. In fact, she had specialists from Darwin to Sydney shaking their heads in disbelief at the way she pulled through a major organ transplant, several heart attacks, strokes, cancer, broken bones, artificial valve implants, chronic infections, dozens of operations.
Family and friends mused at Denise’s resilience, she was a complete enigma, which is why no-one really believed it when news of her death began to circulate.
Denise put up a good fight, a long fight. She was an amazing woman, great company and always up for a party or a bush adventure.
Family meant the world to Denise. She and Steve were soulmates and he was always by her side. Denise doted on her two children, Sarah and Stephen Angus.
Denise was incredibly proud of Sarah, not only because she graduated as a doctor but because she returned to Tennant Creek because she wanted to help the people she grew up with. And there was no greater gift than Stephen Angus’ two children, Iraya and Tracker.
Denise became a mother to her nieces and nephew, Cianne, Tricia-Kara and Donny when her sister, Tricia, died and she loved their children too. She was an adored ‘Nonna’ to many, including a swag of godchildren.
As the turnout at her funeral and the stories at her wake proved, Denise was a great character who was well loved and respected.
Time now to rest in peace Froggy. We’re already missing you so much.
This article appeared in the Tennant & District Times, 7 May 2021.