Tove shows her ‘old man’ portrait
by Gay Liddington
A love of learning is what Tove (Toor-va) Easton cites as the driving force in her life. Writer Gay Liddington found speaking with her was like taking a short course in how to live an inspired existence.
People of the Hinterland know Tove as their local solicitor at Easton Lawyers in Maleny, community member and friend. However, as her story unfolded, a multi-faceted diamond revealed itself.
“I learnt to read music before I could read letters. The written language of music was my first language,” said Tove, now first violinist with the Brisbane Philharmonic Orchestra.
Born in Bergen, Norway into a musical family, Tove’s young mind absorbed the composition. At the age of four she learnt to play the recorder. Five, the piano and a couple of years later the violin.
“I’ve played as long as I can remember. Music has always been part of my life.
“My Norwegian grandfather was a professional violinist and Danish grandmother a professional pianist and organist.
“My parents, both academics, were musical. Mum was an accomplished singer. She would drag us kids off to rehearsals and I would read the score for the orchestra and conduct for fun while my brothers played with their cars under the pew.
“We didn’t have television by choice. On weekends in winter, Mum and Dad would read to us in front of the fireplace. We were always learning. Favourites were the works of Tolkien.”
Educated at a Steiner school, Tove completed Year 12 and began university in Norway. She then spent six months at the University of Cambridge in the UK learning proficiency in English an entry requirement.
At the age of 20, Tove visited a cousin in Toowoomba. It was there she met her future husband Kim, an eighth generation Australian. They were married in Norway where the bride wore the traditional costume.
First violinist with the Brisbane Philharmonic Orchestra
Settling into Queensland life and unsure of professional direction, Tove began a Bachelor of Business with a Marketing and Human Resource double major at the University of Southern Queensland (USQ).
The English language hampered Tove’s path but with dogged determination she forged ahead.
“I had some funny misunderstandings because of the language. For example, I wanted to get some bread buns and so went into the bakery and asked for a dozen bums.
“Another thing was when I was going out and asked to bring a plate. I took an empty plate. They thought it was hilarious.”
Tove completed her degree in the early 90s during the ‘recession we had to have’. Unemployment was high but not be thwarted, she accepted the position of manager at Hungry Jack’s in Toowoomba. It was her first real job.
“Then I started a master’s degree in International Business because I wasn’t sure what else to do. One of the studies was in International Law which I found very interesting and so, went down that path.”
In 1994, a year after her first child was born Tove began her law degree. During the next five years whilst living in Toowoomba, she studied externally at Sydney’s Macquarie University, birthed two more children and worked at USQ as a tutor in Marketing and Human Resource Management.
“I either had a big tummy or a new baby and went back and forth to Sydney carting all these babies for my external study visit. I studied at night for seven years and obtained my law degree in 1999.
“My husband Kim was awesome. I couldn’t have done it without that teamwork.”
Tove began her career in law as Alistair Charlton’s articled clerk in Maleny. The family moved from Toowoomba in January 2000. Seven years later, she acquired the business of Charlton and Bain now known as Easton Lawyers.
Not one to be complacent, Tove Easton continued to innovate. As her children grew she began working with her violin once again. In 2004, she auditioned and gained a position in the Brisbane Philharmonic Orchestra.
Add to the Tove mix the desire to learn Spanish. She is now in her third year of external study in advanced Spanish at Macquarie University.
She adds: “I’ve also started Arabic lessons. We have Norwegian friends who live in Cairo. They invited us to visit and so I thought I’d better learn the language. It’s a fascinating culture and so learning the language will be awesome fun.”
Another source of awesome fun for Tove was a Portrait and Life Drawing course completed in November last year at the Brisbane Institute of Art. She is going to re-join the course for another six months later this year.
While Tove Easton seemed to have a charmed life, tragedy stalked in 2011 when her youngest son aged 12 became critically ill. He was on life support for a week due to multi organ failure. His life hung in the balance. The cause of the illness was a mystery – diagnoses septic shock. The discharge certificate says, miraculously survived.
It was the community response to this family’s plight that Tove speaks about with love and gratitude.
“Kim and I would each do 12 hour shifts at the hospital while also managing our family and work. We would come home and there would be a dish on the doorstep, our dinner. There were prayers, messages of support, cakes, and also mango and lilly pilly trees which I planted. Some gifts were from people we didn’t even know.”
Tove concludes, “This community embraced me in a way that I never thought possible. The people are real. I love this community and love being part of it. I love that I can contribute to it in a meaningful way.”