The time has come for Millicent resident Gwenda Lawlor to part with one of her community commitments.
At the age of 81, she has declined another 10-year term as a Justice of the Peace when her term of office expires at the end of this month.
She will put away for good her JP stamp which has been used to witness hundreds of signatures and verify countless documents over the past 20 years.
Ms Lawlor was previously the only JP in the southern part of the Furner area for around two decades and her services had been in demand from members of that farming community.
She left the family farm after she built a home near the Millicent CBD in 2021.
Although she will no longer have the post-nominals JP, Ms Lawlor is not retreating from public life.
She will continue to devote her energy and talents to chairing the board of management of Millicent’s Boneham Aged Care Services which has oversight of 110 residents and 145 staff.
The volunteering ethos has been a part of her life since her teenage years when she was involved in Millicent Rural Youth and the Millicent Show Society.
Ms Lawlor spent many years as a member of the Mount Gambier Health Advisory Council and was a long-serving Regional Development Australia deputy chairperson.
Her community profile lifted when she was elected to Beachport District Council in the early 1990s and later became its chairman.
After a break from local government, Ms Lawlor began a then-record 15-year term as a Corcoran Ward representative on Wattle Range Council in 2003.
The four-yearly elections come around again in October but Ms Lawlor has ruled out another tilt at council.
She told The SE Voice that community involvement had been a large part of her life.
“My uncle Gordon Hutchesson was a Justice of the Peace and so I knew what was involved,” Ms Lawlor said.
“Our JP at Furner was Jeff Varcoe but he left the area about 20 years ago.
“My husband Harry suggested I should nominate and I did all the paperwork at Mount Gambier.
“Since moving into Millicent, I have had calls from the Millicent Public Library staff as they have had people asking for documents to be witnessed.”
With Ms Lawlor stepping down from office, the number of resident JPs in Millicent has been reduced to six.