Lasting legacy: Vale Olive May Thurlby

This article featured in Illuminate Newsletter Spring ‘22
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Olive May Thurlby passed away peacefully in May last year, just short of her 101st birthday. She had been a friend of WEHI’s since making her first donation to the Institute in 2011.

When asked why she chose to support WEHI, Olive explained: “Over the years, I have lost many family members and loved ones to cancer.

“I have always admired the work of Sir Macfarlane Burnet and Sir Gus Nossal and, when I sold my house, I decided I could now donate to support medical research at the Institute.”

Full of life

WEHI’s Manager, Future Giving, Anne Rady first met Olive shortly after joining the Institute in 2016.

“Olive was then a sprightly 96 years old, full of life and fiercely independent,” she says.

“At the time, Olive lived at home, and travelled around her neighbourhood by electric scooter. She was computer literate, conducting personal business by laptop, notebook and mobile phone.

“We enjoyed many visits and conversations, and I loved her mischievous sense of humour.

“It was always a joy to spend time with Olive and to hear the stories of her life.”

Olive lived a full life, working in administrative roles until her retirement. She was a keen gardener, loved a game of golf and travelled extensively. Olive out-lived two husbands and survived her siblings, including her older sister Thelma who died aged 101.

Making a difference

Both sisters were philanthropic, and Olive was determined to leave her legacy to support medical research, donating to the Baker Institute, the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre and WEHI in equal parts in her Will.

Olive’s father, a returned service man, died of cancer at just 43. Olive took great comfort in the knowledge that her life’s savings would make a difference long after her passing.

Gifts in Wills, no matter the size, all contribute significantly to what can be achieved by WEHI researchers in their endeavours to fight the diseases we dread. From breakthrough discoveries in Parkinson’s disease to developing a blood test for dementia, WEHI scientists are committed to solving our most complex health problems.

Our teams of researchers are making transformative discoveries for cancer, infectious and immune diseases, developmental disorders and healthy ageing – to help us all live healthier, longer lives. Gifts in Wills support this vital research, providing hope for a brighter future for our global community.

First published on 01 September 2022
This article featured in Illuminate Newsletter Spring ‘22
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