John and Maud Kelly reunited at Mater

After nearly 40 years, John Patrick Kelly OBE and his wife Maud have been reunited at Mater’s Brisbane hospital campus – with their portraits hanging side by side in the historic Aubigny Place building. 

The couple, who dedicated decades to improving and advancing Mater and its services without recompense, were painted by eight-time Archibald Prize winner and Australian painter Captain Sir William Dargie CBE. 

The paintings have now been installed at Aubigny Place in the level one boardroom, along with a plaque bearing a new official name for the room: Kelly Boardroom. 

Mr Kelly, a Brisbane solicitor, was chair of Mater Advisory Boards from 1938 – 1978, leading Mater to become an integral part of the Queensland health system in collaboration with the Sisters of Mercy. 

While Mr Kelly lent his legal and business acumen to Mater, Mrs Kelly worked tirelessly on the Mater auxiliary to raise funds through dinner dances, the annual September fete and other social events. 

When Mr Kelly retired from the chairmanship, Mater commissioned his portrait to ensure his legacy lived on. In turn, Mr Kelly asked Sir William to paint a portrait of his wife, who had died in 1968, from photographs and images. 

For several decades, Mrs Kelly’s portrait hung in the home of her daughter Monica Duncan, who lived with her husband Julian in Wimbledon in the United Kingdom until she passed away last year. 

Since February, Julian has been liaising with the Brisbane-based Kelly children – now aged in their 70s and 80s – to bring the portrait home to Brisbane, and to Mater. 

A special morning tea was held for the family on Tuesday 24 October, and was attended by Mr and Mrs Kelly’s daughters Margaret Kelly, Moira Mann and Carmel MacDonald, as well as their husbands and Julian.    

Margaret, Moira, and Carmel have many memories of their parents’ work with the Sisters of Mercy.  They and their brother Xavier and his wife Helen, who were unable to attend the event, have also retained strong ties to Mater and its people over the decades. 

Sister Angela Mary, who worked closely with Mr Kelly for many decades, remembered his strong advocacy for public patient care, and his vocal support of Medibank – Australia’s first universal healthcare plan, introduced in the 1970s by former Minister for Social Security Bill Hayden. 

“The Mater would not be what it is today without Mr Kelly,” Sister Angela Mary said. 

Pictured: (left to right) John MacDonald, Sister Fay, Julian Duncan, Carmel MacDonald, Sister Angela, Margaret Kelly, Moira Mann, Peter Mann and Jane Schmitt.

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