A STALWART of the Kangaroo Valley community has died in the Southern Highlands at the age of 93.
Affectionately known as “the panther lady”, Doris Blinman was well known for her involvement in numerous Kangaroo Valley organisations.
She also gained international fame after many sightings of the elusive black panthers at her property in the Valley.
Mrs Blinman spent much of her life in Kangaroo Valley and later moved to the Southern Highlands, where in recent times she lived at the Harbison Nursing Home at Burradoo.
Even though she moved to the Highlands because her health was failing, she continued to travel back down the mountain by bus, to the Valley and Nowra, many times to continue her commitments to the community in the local area.
There were few groups or organisations in Kangaroo Valley that didn’t benefit from her involvement during her 60 plus years in the township.
It was her work with the Kangaroo Valley Pioneer Farm, in which she acted as publicity officer and tourist guide, and service with the CWA and Senior Citizens that’s she was extremely well known for.
She was a major player in the push for improved infrastructure in the Valley.
She loved being part of her local community and her service was recognised in 2002 when she was named the Shoalhaven Citizen of the Year.
That was one of a number of awards she was presented with over the years, including being made a life member of Children’s Medical Research, as well as Senior Citizens Awards, Senior Citizen of the Year, Senior Citizen Commonwealth Award and Meroogal Women’s Day Award. In 2000 she was a torch bearer for the Sydney Olympic Games.
She suffered a major stroke in 2008, but family members said she was a “tough old girl” and continued to battle on before passing away peacefully on Sunday.
Doris, also found herself in the international news spotlight after reporting a series of black panther sightings on her property in the 1980s.
There were many theories over the years about the animals’ origins ... circus escapees and descendants of mascots released by overseas military personnel serving in the area after World War II.
She said she regularly saw and heard the panthers around her house until she moved to Mittagong.
“I’ve been six foot away from them, looking through the kitchen door,” she once said.
She saw two different panthers around her house and could tell them apart because one had a thicker tail.
“The cats came both at night and in daylight and delighted in eating the fruit from my grapevine as well as eating local wildlife, including a fruit bat,” she said.
Mrs Blinman was predeceased by her husband Arthur (known as Tex) in 1977 and her daughter Nola, but is survived by sons Arthur and Gordon and their families – seven grandchildren and nine great grandchildren.
Mrs Blinman’s funeral will be held at the Church of the Good Shepherd in Kangaroo Valley on Monday, September 2 at 11am and will be followed by burial at the Kangaroo Valley Cemetery.