“Our treasure… we all turned to Joyce”

Joyce Libke
Joyce Libke

Wife, mother, teacher, treasured volunteer and town historian … these are just a few roles that Joyce Libke was known for in Canungra.

Joyce Agnes Curtis was born at Beaudesert Hospital on 13 March 1936. She passed away peacefully on Monday 18 September aged 87 years, surrounded by her loving family.

Joyce was the eldest child of Kenneth and Muriel Curtis, who went on to have three morechildren -Bruce (who passed away before his fourth birthday), Claire and Sybil.

Cafe Metz

The family lived on ‘Glen Witheren’, on Lamington National Park Road, where they had a dairy farm.

Joyce’s first three years of schooling were done by correspondence, with her mother as her tutor.

Her early years coincided with World War Two. Petrol was rationed and scarce, so the car was used sparingly.

Joyce wrote in her memoirs that until she was nine years old her sisters, Claire and Sybil, were her main playmates; except for rare occasions when cousins from Wonglepong came to visit.

In early 1945 the family purchased a pony and Joyce rode to Canungra State School for the next four years.

When she sat for Scholarship in 1949, she gained a pass of 81 per cent -the highest any pupil of the school had achieved. She then attended St Hilda’s in Southport as a boarder for four years, gaining her Senior Certificate in 1953, before going on to Teacher Training College in Brisbane.

Graduating from the College, Joyce returned to Canungra and spent three years teaching the younger children at Canungra State School.

Falling in love

Joyce first met Desmond Libke when she was 14 years old. They went to a dance together when they were in their late teens but then Desmond joined the army, so while Joyce was teaching at Canungra State School, Desmond was overseas.

When he returned, they reconnected at Jesse Daniels’ wedding. Desmond was a driver and Joyce’s sister had done the flowers for the wedding. Five days later, they were engaged.

Joyce recalled this time in a Canungra Times interview in 2022.

“It was really funny, because the only people who didn’t seem to know what was going to be, were Des and I.”

“There was even an old Mahony bachelor out here who said to Des, “She’s still waiting up the creek for you”.

The couple went on to have four children -Brian, Karen, Angela and Katrina Joy; seven grandchildren and five great-grandchildren. Joyce and Desmond were married for 64 years.

When asked what was the secret to a long and happy marriage, Joyce said simply, “Choose the right one”.

Their son Brian was born in 1960 and daughter Karen in 1961. The following year Joyce and Desmond moved to Holland Park, Brisbane. They had two more daughters, Angela (1964) and Katrina Joy (1966).

Joyce returned to teaching in 1972, beginning at Mt Gravatt South Primary Schoolfor 20 years. They moved back to Canungra, to the family property of ‘Glen Witheren’ in 1990 after the passing of Joyce’s mother, Muriel.


Joyce developed her interest in history from her mother, who wrote the original 100 year book for the district back in 1979. She wrote the History column for the Canungra Times for many years, delving into her files at home to share the town’s stories with others. Joyce never failed to turn her column in, often stopping for a chat.

In April 2022, she was featured as the ‘Human of Canungra’. Well known as Canungra’s unofficial historian, Joyce was a founding member of the Canungra & District Historical Association.

Association President, Tamlyn Geiger described Joyce as the backbone of history in Canungra.

“She was always willing to write stories for the town and was the go to for many history questions,” said Tamlyn.“

Of course her monthly stories in the Canungra Times and her stories throughout the Scenic Rim are testament to her dedication to saving the history of Canungra.”

“Sadly missed already, she is a lady of significance in our town.”

QCWA Wonglepong

Joyce was also an active member of the Wonglepong CWA. The first President, Anne Franklin, was her Great Aunt and the first Secretary was her mother’s mother, Millie Campbell. She had a strong association with the organisation her whole life, attending meetings and helping as a volunteer.

“Our treasure, we all turned to Joyce,” said CWA Wonglepong President, Louise Goodman.

“She was always there and knew everything about CWA and was known all over Queensland through CWA.”

“She spent thousands of hours over the years, knitting tiny teddies which were placed in ambulances as gifts for children, making crisis care packs for places of refuge, school supplies, beanies, rugs for hospitals and nursing homes and the $3 dateloaves for our cake stalls.”

“She was a brilliant and gifted teacher, never looking for recognition for herself.”

“We’ll miss her friendship, kindness and guidance. When Joyce called us on the phone, she would say “it’s just Joyce” and that was her.”


Joyce was one of the Patrons of Canungra Show Society (where she was also the Society’s Historian) and Canungra Bowls Club. Joyce will be remembered as the dearly loved wife of Desmond, much loved mother and mother-in-law of Brian and Loretta, Karen and Robert, Angela and Ralph and Katrina and David. She was ‘Ma’ to Lachlan, Maddie, Gena, Connor, Emma, Joe, Zoe, Sam, Sarah, Liam and ‘G/ma’ to Lilly, Harry, Henry, Chloe and Hannah. She was a much-loved teacher and a tireless community volunteer.

Joyce Libke will be remembered at a Celebration of Life on Monday 23 October from 10.30am to 12.30pm at the Canungra Bowls Club. All welcome to attend.

About Keer Moriarty 296 Articles
Editor, journo, social media manager and tea lady with Canungra Times.