Tribute - Doris Lees

Doris Lees, Life Member of ATASDA, passed away in September 2008. The following tribute was writte by Vishna Collins.

I've had the great pleasure and privilege of knowing Doris Lees for a decade. She was a genuine and caring human being, always wishing the best for others. On many occasions, I've sat next to her at General Meetings, and participated in the same exhibitions, she was always a delight to be with.

When I think of Doris, warm, caring, compassion, generous are words that come to mind. She was a lady of great integrity and compassion; the qualities that define her humanity. She always remembered our names and greeted us with a warm and friendly smile, and always gave us the time of day. That's the person that I remember so fondly.

Doris was a thoughtful and selfless human being; she always diverted interest away from her self, and was always vitally interested in everything that we did. She supported our creative endeavours and genuinely celebrated our success. In the process, she enriched our lives and touched everyone deeply with her warmth and kindness.

I remember her beautiful hand crafted silk painted textile objects, her collection of small and exquisite machine embroidered purses, and her love of deep blue Irises, her signature statements that defined her wonderful work. Other memories also fondly linger on, two in particular come to mind, those that defined her humanity.

On Sunday 1st April, 2003 I was engaged to be a model at the opening of Big & Bold, Small and Exquisite exhibition, Fairfield City Museum & Gallery. Japanese Kimono expert Makiko Homma demonstrated the Art of Kimono Dressing, whilst the audience watched and listened attentively.

For me being dressed in front of my ATASDA peers and the general public was quite daunting. It was whilst I was in the dressing room with Makiko that Doris popped in to see how I was managing and gave me a hug and said "don't worry you'll be right, you are amongst friends".

I don't remember anyone in the audience that day, but I do remember Doris vividly, sitting in the front row large as life, and her friendly smile. That's what made all the difference in the end, she always thought of others first, that sums up her humanity.

At a General Meeting many years ago Doris came with a box full of wooden lasts. She announced that they belonged to a retired shoemaker who had no use for them now. She encouraged members to help themselves and take whatever they liked, within moments the last were snapped up and went to good homes. She could've sold the lasts and made a profit, but instead she chose to share them with her mates, and wanted nothing back. That's the measure of her generosity of spirit.

I remember Doris fondly for many things, but I remember her most of all for her generosity of spirit, thoughtfulness, warmth and friendly smiles. I shall always remember all those precious moments that we've shared, and the legacy of joy and good will that she left behind.

People come into our lives when least expected, and stay a while, we share a meal together and have a laugh, than suddenly circumstance change and they go and have another life. But every now and again, someone special like Doris comes along and stays to the very end, touching our lives deeply in many loving ways.

Like a deep footprint in the sand, she left an indelible mark on the ATASDA Community. Doris was one of ATASDA's Life Members and a much loved and respected member. Her sad passing is a great loss to the ATASDA Community, and all those who knew and loved her dearly. The time has come now not to mourn her passing, but to celebrate her beautiful life, and remember fondly the joy and the good will she so freely passed around.

Vishna Collins

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