Vale Rhonda Peters (nee Simkin)

Rhonda died peacefully on Thursday 30 November 2017 at her home, as was her wish, after a sixteen month illness, with a brain tumour. Rhonda was 59 years old.

Rhonda’s family included her beloved husband and soul mate Keith, her daughter Brooke, son Matt and Brooke’s husband Andy, with children – Sophie, Finn and Paddy, and Matt’s partner Sandi, and their son Gabe, with a new baby due in February, and her stepson, Ashley as well as her much loved father, Roland Cooper (known to all as Roly), and older sister Sandra.

Rhonda and Keith had been enjoying a full and busy life with family and friends, when sixteen months ago, she was diagnosed with a brain tumour. Rhonda’s health slowly deteriorated. She was cared for by her family, supported by her many friends and Hospice Palliative Care, who did a wonderful job to make her last days, more comfortable.

Rhonda and her family, would sincerely like to thank Craig Carden, her Oncologist, Deb Henty, her GP, the staff at Ballarat Hospice, and the St Johns Health Care Nurses, for the great care they provided for her. We are indeed fortunate to have such wonderful people in our community. Also, to Rhonda’s friends, who continuously called in for a visit, and never dropped off at any stage. It was very much appreciated.

Rhonda Peters. Image supplied by Rhonda's family.

Rhonda Peters (Simkin)Rhonda's life

Rhonda was a wonderful woman – bright, stylish, energetic and thoroughly devoted to her family and friends. She was born in Casterton, to her parents Roland and Dawn Cooper. She has an older sister, Sandra.

Rhonda went to primary and secondary school in Casterton, and made friends easily. She loved the community and the friendships that she made there. It was her parents’ upbringing, and the Casterton community way of life, that shaped her values as a human being. Values such as: loyalty, understanding, trust and caring for others when needed. Rhonda was incredibly fair and tolerant, she was non-judgemental, and Keith mentioned, the way she tolerated diversity, was honourable.

She worked at the local pharmacy before moving several times between Ararat and Ballarat.

Rhonda spent her career working in various office administration roles over the years. This included working at; Ballarat Orthaepedics, Troons – being Steve Troon’s Personal Assistant, Selkirks, Brash’s, and IOOF Building Society, to name a few. She was incredibly capable, organised and even though busy, still continued to work at maintaining her many friendships that she made along the way.

Rhonda was full of life, and was fun to be with. She loved being a mother and a grandmother, and is adored by both Brooke and Matt and their families. She was a good friend, she loved cooking - particularly making desserts, and entertaining with her family and friends. She would cook up batches of food, and then drive to Casterton the next day to give them to Rolly. She loved her home, and enjoyed organising and maintaining it. She also worked continuously on maintaining her friendships. Many of her friends from Casterton, are still her friends, many years later.

Rhonda and Keith met eleven years ago, in 2006. Rhonda’s cousin, who was Keith’s mate, did a bit of matchmaking, and they had their first date watching a Japanese film at the Ballarat Film Society, with two goldfish being the main characters. They celebrated their love and unity with their marriage, last year. 

Words from Keith

When Rhonda received her diagnosis, she looked up and into the emergency room doctor’s eyes and calmly said ‘ok, what do we do now’? This comment defined how Rhonda fought this disease, and it is characteristic of her stoicism, her dignity, her bravery and her absolute unwillingness to be defined by her illness. Rhonda would always control and decide her fate. Rhonda’s illness never determined who she was, she would never let her illness overcome how we all knew and understood Rhonda, and friends and family will have their own unique and very special memories of Rhonda’s sense of family, friendship, loyalty and compassion.

During Rhonda’s illness she never said ‘why me’, she never challenged how unfair it was, she never complained and she was never bitter. She got on with living her life.
Our Grandma

The Grandchildren’s reflections on Grandma Rhonda:

Being a Grandmother was one of Rhonda’s greatest joys. Rhonda love to indulge her grandchildren in all the treats that Brooke and Matt would have had to beg forever to possibly experience, for example: the ultimate 2 litre Big M or huge tub of chocolate custard.

Rhonda was always delighted to hear any of the antics that her grandchildren had got up to. She would find this hysterical and laugh at the challenges Brooke & Matt face as parents and call it payback!!!

Sophie: (Age 11)

Grandma worked extra hard so she could really spoil us. She was always very generous, just like Papa. When she came to see us, she was always armed with bags of shopping and groceries. We knew Grandma had arrived by the sound of her high heels clicking down the hallway & the smell of her perfume. Grandma knew how to make my bed the very best.

Finn: (Age 9)

Grandma always supported and encouraged us. I loved when Grandma looked after us because we always had really yum dinners and dessert.

Paddy: (Age 4)

I love Grandma’s hugs and kisses. Grandma has the best toys to play with at her house & lollies in her cupboard. We felt loved and very spoilt.

Gabe: (Age 3)

I love Grandma’s toys and how she always has Saladas biscuits and cranberry juice for me.

No-one who knows of Rhonda’s death will remain untouched by it.

Keith Peters, Brooke and Matt Simkin

We would like to thank Civil Celebrant – Susie Cochrane for preparing Rhonda's funeral service.

This is an extended version of the article first published in Edition 10 of the Brown Hill Community Newsletter.