Bethia Stoddart Moffat

Bethia Stoddart Moffat

Female 1925 - 1997  (71 years)  Submit Photo / DocumentSubmit Photo / Document


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  • Gender Female 
    Born 31 August 1925  Balclutha, Otago, New Zealand Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Eulogy BETHIA SCHAEFER 31.8.25 - 20.6.97

    Bethia Stoddart Moffat, born at Balclutha on 31-8-25, was the only daughter of William Ernest Moffat and Janet Bethia Moffat. She was the third generation to bear the name of Bethia, as Nettie Moffat's mother had been Bethia Bringans.

    We were brought up on a farm of about 300 acres during the 1930's Depression, so material blessings were not abundant, which helps to explain why none of us, including Beth, were very good at throwing away anything which might possibly some day be useful to somebody. In those days wives and daughters were not actively engaged in farm work, so the fence round the house was not only a physical barrier, but it also marked the dividing line between men's work and women's work. Inside were women and cats, with men in clean boots being tolerated. Outside were all the farm animals and woe betide any dog or hen that ventured inside. Therefore Beth was not required to go out on bleak frosty mornings to fill the dray with swedes so that the cows and us kids could eat them. Needless to say, the cows liked them far better than the kids did!

    A much happier memory is of the stories we were read before bedtime, of Robin Hood, Friar Tuck, Little John and other such heroes. Another memory is of hot vegetable soup made once a week, with the water from the cooked vegetables added to it each day, so that by the end of the week it was almost intolerably salty.

    We attended a small primary school at Te Houka, which in my time had a roll of six to twelve pupils. The year there were six on the roll four of them were Moffats The teachers we had were, with one exception, young single women and as there was a surfeit of unmarried Moffat males in the district at the time, quite a number of them ended up as relatives. Mother, who had also been a teacher, more than once said that it was the only way the Moffats could get any brains in the family!

    At that time church services were held in the school with the Presbyterian minister coming out once a fortnight. For some reason the men sat at the back and the women and children at the front. It was a great day in the lives of us boys when we were allowed to sit at the back with the men, but Beth, being a girl, had to continue to sit at the front.

    Beth's High School years were undistinguished and she probably left after three years. Some time after that, Mother arranged for Beth to start work at Ross Home, a Presbyterian Old Folks' Home in Dunedin, without consulting the person most concerned. This was more or less par for the course, as Bob was sent to Wellington to be a civil servant, I was sent off to University to become a famous scientist (I might have achieved the latter part, but I missed out on the first part extremely comprehensively) and Peter was to stay home and become a farmer.

    The only thing that I can remember of Beth's stay at Ross Home was that under no circumstances could she knit on Sundays.

    I think that she also worked for a time at the Fever hospital in Dunedin. It was a considerable distance from anywhere, as I can remember going there to see her - I was on the path down below while she was on the balcony above.

    She began her nursing training at Balclutha Hospital in 1948, and by 1952 had completed her General and Maternity Training.

    Two stories from that time - at that period of her life she was quite well-rounded. Nurses lived in hostels and at one stage they felt that their meals left a considerable amount to be desired. They decided that something needed to be done about it and appointed Beth as their spokesperson. She refused, on the grounds that anyone looking at her could only come to the conclusion that the nurses were more than adequately fed!

    The other story is about one of the few times I ever saw Beth lost for words. We were slinging off at one another, in the way family members do from time to time when she said 'Look at him,' (pointing upwards) and I said 'Look at her,' (pointing sideways in both directions).

    In 1953 she took off to Australia on her big OE. She spent a few months at Cooma, which at that time was the headquarters of the Snowy River construction project and very much a wild west town. Then followed a few months at Griffith before she arrived in Walcha in July, 1954. I don't think she intended to stay very long, but she finished up by spending the next 43 years here.

    Others know far more than I do of her life here, but one incident I was told about when we were here a few weeks ago is probably typical. One afternoon when Beth was more or less on her way home, she found that one of the kitchen staff had cut a finger rather badly, while preparing vegetables. Beth insisted that the cut be stitched up, rather than just have a rag tied round it. This took some time, and when the cook went back to her work, she found that Beth had finished preparing the vegetables and gone home.

    About ten years ago, Beth's increasing arthritis hastened her retirement. She seemed to have few problems finding enough to do to fill her time and one of her major tasks was on the committee which built the Apsley Riverview Home, just across the road from her hill Street home. She used to joke that when she became too decrepit to live on her own, she only had to pack her bag and walk across the road.

    About twelve years ago, my wife, Hilda and I spent six weeks of the Christmas School holidays with Beth, while I did a considerable amount of the building on the sunroom at the back of her house. This added considerably to her enjoyment of her retirement.

    Last September Beth was seriously ill with pneumonia. She told us she prayed she would be spared to have one more trip to New Zealand. This was granted to her and she had a wonderful six weeks last summer, visiting her three brothers and meeting nephews and nieces and old acquaintances. One of her great pleasures at our place was home-grown tomatoes, which she helped herself to for three meals a day. Her other favourite New Zealand fruit was kiwifruit and she would go green with envy, when we told her we could at times get them for 29c/kg.

    One day Beth, her three brothers and their wives had lunch together at the local tavern, but typical of our ancestry, we went back to Peter's place for our coffee.

    It was only a few weeks later that Beth rang and told us that she had cancer and that it was inoperable. Her prayers for her trip to New Zealand had been answered and now it was time to pay her dues to her God. And she had told our daughter in Auckland before she came back, that she was the wellest of the four of us.

    The first weekend in May, Beth had a most enjoyable time with her three sons, daughter-in-law, Mandy, her four grandchildren and some other relations. A day or two later she deteriorated to the extent that that was the last time she was at her Hill Street home.

    Before I finish, there are some people to be thanked for their care and love during Beth's illness.

    Dr MacKinnon and all the staff up at the hospital. They not only did all they could to ease Beth's suffering, but also gave the family who spent many hours watching, much comfort and support. The cups of coffee and biscuits, hot scones, ham sandwiches and toasted raisin bread and so on were very much appreciated.

    Joan Bowden - I can't say more than many many thanks.

    Leslie Officer - Leslie's grandmother and Beth's father were friends and neighbours, more than 100 years ago, and they remained very good friends for the rest of their lives.

    Mavis Edwards, who could be called the Mince Queen of Walcha. She should know what I mean, if no one else does.

    Murray Fraser, for the support and love and prayers he has given Beth and her family.

    There are probably others who should be named in this list. To them we give the family's thanks.


    Eulogy given by Duncan Moffat at Walcha, 24 Jun 1997  [1
    Moffat Descendant Number 3.1.3 
    Died 20 June 1997  Walcha, New South Wales, Australia Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Buried 24 June 1997  Walcha, New South Wales, Australia Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Headstones Submit Headstone Photo Submit Headstone Photo 
    Notes 
    • Died after becoming ill in mid-May 1997, and being confined to Walcha Hospital. Was visited by Alistair, and then later by Mum and Dad for a few weeks. Dad and Bob attended the funeral.
    Person ID I696  Roger
    Last Modified 17 January 2011 

    Father William Ernest Moffat,   b. 20 February 1886, Balclutha, Otago, New Zealand Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 19 March 1979, Dunedin, Otago, New Zealand Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 93 years) 
    Mother Janet “Nettie” Bethia Dewar,   b. 14 May 1889, Mosgiel, Otago, New Zealand Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 1 December 1973, Balclutha, Otago, New Zealand Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 84 years) 
    Family ID F3  Family Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

    Family/Spouse Hilton McRae Schaefer,   b. 8 April 1921, Armidale, New South Wales, Australia Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 21 January 1995, Walcha, New South Wales, Australia Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 73 years) 
    Married 11 May 1956  Walcha, New South Wales, Australia Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Children 
    +  1. Male Living
       2. Male Living
    +  3. Male Living
    Family ID F168  Family Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

  • Event Map
    Link to Google MapsBorn - 31 August 1925 - Balclutha, Otago, New Zealand Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsMarried - 11 May 1956 - Walcha, New South Wales, Australia Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsDied - 20 June 1997 - Walcha, New South Wales, Australia Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsBuried - 24 June 1997 - Walcha, New South Wales, Australia Link to Google Earth
     = Link to Google Earth 
    Pin Legend Address Cemetery Farm Town Parish City County/Shire State/Province Country Region Not Set

  • Histories
    John Dewar — Otago Pioneer: Notes about John Dewar
    John Dewar — Otago Pioneer: Notes about John Dewar
    Written by his daughter, Janet Bethia Dewar, probably in 1973, prior to her death (the third to last paragraph mentions "a grandson (1973)".

  • Sources 
    1. [S249] Eulogy given by Duncan Moffat at funeral of Bethia Stoddart Moffat, written by Duncan Moffat.


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