Residents in Perth’s south-east are mourning the loss of much-loved community member Dingena Bruning, who selflessly served the Armadale community for more than three decades.
Dingena was born in a small village in the Netherlands in 1922, where she and her five siblings lived until the family relocated to Rotterdam.
It was there, in the years before World War II, that Dingena met husband Kornelius and embarked on a partnership that would span over 50 years.
The pair had seven children before Kornelius was called to serve at the Free Reformed Church of Armadale in 1960.
In May of that year, the family said their goodbyes and moved to the other side of the globe not knowing whether they would ever be able to return home.
Immediately, Dingena immersed herself in the community – joining the Women’s Auxiliary at Armadale Hospital in a bid to improve her English and connection with the public.
In the years that followed, the pair had three more children and dedicated their lives to serving the Armadale community.
According to son Keith, the role was perfect for his mother who exuded empathy and cared for all those she crossed paths with.
“She always cared for others, no matter who they were,” he said.
“She just had a big heart for whoever was in her path.
“Despite the hardships she faced in life, living through the war years, the great depression, war and then moving to Australia, she didn’t dwell on that.
“She always trusted in God to give her a good life.
“She was always grateful, always content no matter the circumstances.
“She put others first and was always there for others – she exuded empathy, which is of course a core value of Christianity.
“She was very thankful for the community she lived in and her broad contacts within the community.”
Her care for others extended from her family, to her community and even abroad, with the pair visiting Papua New Guinea and parts of South East Asia as part of their call to serve.
With her role serving alongside husband Kornelius consuming a lot of her time, Keith said his mother’s release was the ocean.
“She loved the ocean,” he said.
“We all do, but it was certainly her release.
“When you’re standing facing the ocean, the whole world is behind you.”
It was Dingena’s faith that guided her through Kornelius’ sudden passing in 1993, a tragedy Keith said she handled remarkably well.
In her 97 years, Dingena was blessed with an ever-growing family, with 55 grandchildren and 134 great grandchildren.
Dingena Bruning passed peacefully on Tuesday morning, April 21, aged 97 after a short battle with cancer.