John and Joan Gillespie
It was a sad day at 96.5 Inner FM on Saturday 14th July 2012 when we learned of the passing of one of our beloved presenters, Joan Gillespie.
Joan was with Inner FM for around 20 years and presented a variety of programmes over the years with her great selection of nostalgic music.
Joan contracted polio when she was five months old and was in an iron lung for many years. Her good friend June Middleton remained in an iron lung for her entire life. Joan was cared for by her wonderful husband John and she lived life to the full.
She was always thinking of other people. Joan enjoyed going to see the stage musicals and told me she loved the current production of Annie. Joan worked as a volunteer at the Austin and Repatriation Hospitals and went from ward to ward cheering up patients with her little dog on the step of her wheelchair. How could anybody feel sorry for themselves compared to Joan who was almost completely paralysed. Joan received the Veteran Community Award at Government House from Premier Ted Baillieu last year as a lead up to the Victorian Seniors Festival. Joan was also invited to a luncheon with Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II during the Queen’s last visit to Melbourne.
We all admired the courage and spirit of Joan Gillespie and are saddened by her loss. Joan died in hospital from pneumonia the day before her 75th birthday. Her birthday party was cancelled when she became ill.
We all have our treasured memories of Joan. She would always have a little present for me. On the last Sunday she was in the studio she said, 'Here Kevy this is for you.' and she gave me a Bobby Darin CD because she knew I was a big fan of his work. She was the same with everyone. As well as listening to 96.5FM and calling presenters with encouragement and support Joan was also a big fan of Bruce Mansfield and Philip Brady on 3AW and said that they kept her company at night. Bruce and Phil had planned to make a surprise appearance at her birthday party.
In recent years Joan guest hosted Sunday with Sandra for Sandra McCurdy and the programme became Sunday with Joan and we heard the beautiful music that she loved so much on a monthly basis. Joan would e-mail her programme “play list” to friends throughout the world. John was her "panel operator" and they spent happy hours together in the studios.
We are blessed to have known Joan and I guess she was fortunate to have lived to be almost 75 - but that does not heal our grief. Our sympathy is extended to her husband and "rock" John Gillespie and all the family.
Please also read Tommy Garrett's tribute to Joan on his Highlight Hollywood website.