FAMILY, friends and the community have farewelled the woman who fought for higher education in Toowoomba, but also enjoyed a cup of tea.

Dellys Kelly was 86 when she died on March 1. A large crowd gathered at her funeral at St Patrick's Cathedral yesterday.

Mrs Kelly was an early founder of the University of Southern Queensland and a life member of the Liberal Party.

Her two sons Greg and Michael, along with former Groom MP Ian Macfarlane, now the Queensland Resources Council CEO, shared special memories of their mother and friend.

"The Liberal Party and the now LNP was how I got to know Dellys more than 20 years ago," Mr Macfarlane said.

"I noticed the other day that the LNP described her as a 'giant amongst giants'.

FAREWELL DELLYS: Founding member of the University of Southern Queensland Dellys Kelly is farewelled at St Patrick's Cathedral.
FAREWELL DELLYS: Founding member of the University of Southern Queensland Dellys Kelly is farewelled at St Patrick's Cathedral. Nev Madsen

"I reckon that would make Dellys laugh because if she was standing where I am standing she would be flat out staring over the lectern.

"But anyone who knew her knows why they made that reference and when she spoke behind a lectern everyone listened."

Mr Macfarlane described Mrs Kelly as an extraordinary woman, who was also dynamic, determined as well as compassionate.

"She was a woman who didn't just talk about what needed to be done, but did it," he said.

Greg spoke about his mother's love of a cup of tea. Her house was filled with tea pots, tea cups, matching sauces and the like.

"One of the things I always admired about mum was her work ethic. I witnessed it throughout my life," he said.

Greg shared a short poem about his mother, with the last words bringing a smile to those there to farewell her.

"We all know my mum, she was the one that took us from sadness to cheer," Greg read.

Fellowship of the University recipient Dellys Kelly at USQ Graduation Day, September 5, 2009.
Dellys Kelly died aged 86. Nev Madsen

"So don't be sad, just be glad, there's someone in heaven that can pour a beer."

Mrs Kelly's other son Michael spoke with emotion as he detailed his mother's life full of accolades and, more importantly, love for her family.

"Dellys did not believe in the phrase cannot be done. She would find a way through with hard work, persistence," he said.

"Her work ethic was unshakeable. She was so organised and disciplined. She had two diaries, one in the car that went everywhere with her and one next to the phone in the phone in the house, both updated every day."

Michael said his mother did everything she could to develop self-belief in everyone she touched and her work that established USQ meant the community now had a lasting legacy.

"We believe mum's greatest achievements were her relationships with friends, with so many people from all walks of life," he said.

"Not just the famous and powerful but all the average guys that she would make feel special.

"Our mum and nana might be gone, but her influence will be with us for a long time."