Valerie Dempsey with her grandchildren, from left: Emily, 18, Renicha, 12, Teniqua, 8, Shabella Dempsey, 4. at the Peter Dempsey Memorial NAIDOC Golf Day, Calliope Golf Course, yesterday. Photo Nicky Moffat / The Observer
Valerie Dempsey with her grandchildren, from left: Emily, 18, Renicha, 12, Teniqua, 8, Shabella Dempsey, 4. at the Peter Dempsey Memorial NAIDOC Golf Day, Calliope Golf Course, yesterday. Photo Nicky Moffat / The Observer Nicky Moffat

Dempsey family remembers loving father, great golfer

IT'S been 13 years since Valerie Dempsey and her husband Peter packed up their family of three in Mt Isa and headed to Gladstone for Pete's work with SEG engineering.

It was the move of a lifetime in hopes of better opportunities for the indigenous family.

Peter Dempsey loved the golfing lifestyle.

He was an avid social golfer who took every opportunity to turn out onto the course with his mates and enjoy a game, including the NAIDOC golf days.

The late Peter Dempsey.
The late Peter Dempsey.

In 2009 Mr Dempsey died from an undiscovered medical condition but, in a tribute to the high esteem in which he was held in his adopted Gladstone community, the NAIDOC Week golf day was named in his honour.

This year marks the fourth year the game has been held in his name.

Mr Dempsey left behind wife Valerie and their four children.

Mrs Dempsey said the family was very honoured to have a local golf day in his memory.

"Peter passed away in October and the next year the NAIDOC committee approached us and asked if they could rename the golf day in Peter's name," she said.

"It was a wonderful way to show the respect he held in the community and a touching moment to us to recognise him."

Mrs Dempsey said Peter would always take a day off work to celebrate social golfing activities.

And their children take after him.

"Three of our children live in Gladstone (the eldest is still in Mt Isa) and we all attend the day and enjoy it a great deal," she said.

"Our boys will go have a hit as a social thing but golf is a game I have never been able to get the hang of, no matter how I tried."

For Valerie and daughter Emily, NAIDOC Week has always been very important to the family, no matter where they lived.

"We usually try to attend all the NAIDOC events, the start of the week openings and march and whatever we can get to," Mrs Dempsey.

"This year is different for us though because we have 'sorry business' this week because of deaths in our family.

"Our whole Mt Isa family is coming down."

The family said NAIDOC was all about keeping connected and keeping the kids involved as they got older. "We need to make sure that we maintain our connection to community and culture and family," Mrs Dempsey said.