Toowoomba poet and Highlife Magazine contributor Mick Grace passed away recently in June. His friends Shirley and Trevor McIvor have written this tribute to honour his memory…
Soon after Jenny Swan commenced broadcasting at ABC Radio Southern Queensland, Toowoomba, in 2001, she and producer Vicki Thompson visited our home and persuaded Shirley McIvor to prepare three minute articles on individual war memorials in the listening area.These turned into a marathon 84 segments that were broadcast regularly on Jenny’s morning programme. Some time later she played a catchy song, She’ll Be Right, Mate, written and sung by Mick Grace. He then asked if Jen could type his lyrics, and some of his yarns.
Having learnt of Shirley’s secretarial experience Jen asked if Shirley would respond to his request. At the time it seemed only a small task, but as Mick was encouraged to remember and record more of his incredible “adventures” the volume of typing escalated. Up until his sudden death on 22 June 2014 this has continued, with songs, poems and art added to his life story. Regular articles on local people were included, with drawn portraits, in Toowoomba’s Mail. One of his poems, Made in Australia, won the Australia Day 2008 Award in the Jondaryan Shire, and other work was highly commended in the Ipswich Poetry Feast.
Mick was a regular visitor to the McIvor home and his work has been published locally in Highlife Magazine, letters to The Chronicle, as well as Toowoomba’s Mail. The Toowoomba Library featured his work in a special display in 2008. Following his acclaimed art work in a children’s book, Eric the Echidna Has Lost His Spikes by Debrah Pacholke in 2009, we recommended him to Terry King, Bundamba, author of A Sapper, An Officer and a Gentleman, published privately in 2010. This was a request to have some cartoons included to add a “lighter note” to a rather sombre 780 page war history, and Mick’s cartoons appear on nine pages of the book. Terry’s grandfather and Shirley’s father, an original ANZAC, had escorted returning ANZACS back to Australia at the end of World War I.
Mick has given free art lessons to disabled young people; at Brodribb Home for elderly folk; at the Toowoomba RSL and Toowoomba Library. Several of his students have already won awards. Even while sitting at our dining room table Mick almost unconsciously drew on any available piece of paper while spinning his endless yarns. A gentle giant, Mick Grace will be greatly missed by many.
Words by Shirley & Trevor McIvor