Swimming teacher Dot Mackey taught thousands of pupils of all ages and abilities over four decades in Sutherland Shire, and she did it with a happiness that was infectious.
“Dot would walk in with this huge smile on her face and just light the place up,” said another teacher.
“She taught babies through to adults, including school groups and people with a disability, and she was the most beautiful, caring person.”
Dorothy (Dot) Mackey, of Miranda, died on October 7 at 74, after being diagnosed with an aggressive brain tumour five months earlier.
A funeral service will be held at St Luke’s Anglican Church Miranda tomorrow (Monday, October 15) at midday.
Dot’s teaching was at the Cronulla Sports Complex and Burraneer Bay Swim School, where she stood out with her silvery white hair and big smile.
She was also a volunteer teacher for 20 years with the Rainbow Club, providing children with a disability the opportunity and confidence to extend their abilities through swimming.
When the club brought in an age limit of 18, she took it upon herself to continue to cater for older participants.
She approached Cronulla Sports Complex, who gave her the use of two lanes from 9-10am each Saturday.
Dot grew up at North Bondi and both she and her identical twin sister Sue were State swimmers, competing against Olympic champions of the 1960s.
She and her husband Geoff moved to Miranda after their marriage in 1972 and she lived at home till her death on their 46th wedding anniversary.
“The name Dorothy means Gift of God and that’s exactly what she was,” Geoff said.
“Dot never had a bad word to say about anyone.
“People who were feeling down would have a conversation with her and they would walk away with a smile on their face.
“She could turn a bad situation into a good one.
“Swimming was in her blood. In the early days, she used to go down to Gunnamatta Bay baths and help with the free learn-to-swim classes.”
The couple have three sons Andrew, Craig and Scott.
Andrew Mackey, a fitness instructor and personal trainer at Caringbah YMCA, said, when he was out with his mother, “every second person stopped to talk with her”.
“She always had time for people and showed genuine interest in other people’s children and lives,” he said.
“She just liked doing things for others and making them happy.”
In May, Andrew revealed Dot’s illness on Facebook and encouraged people to support the NRL’s Beanies for Brain Cancer round.
“Mum has spent her whole life giving to others,” he wrote. “She is the kindest, most generous and caring person I know. Please buy your beanies and show your support for this great cause.”