When Bill passed away after a long illness, his sister, ‘Polly’ asked me if I would deliver an eulogy for him at his funeral service.
Bill had been a close mate of mine for over twenty years and I was proud to accept.
The following is a precise of that eulogy.
‘Bill,’ as he preferred to be called was a genuine, fair dinkum, Aussie bloke and I loved the way he always called young women, ‘Darlin.’ Bill said those words in such a way that the young ladies always laughed and smiled. No one ever took offence.
My knowledge of Bill began many years before I met him in person. That was because SWMBO grew up with Bill and his family. Together, Bill, his sister, brother and SWMBO enjoyed a great country childhood full of adventure and fun.
Although Bill was the youngest in the family, SWMBO remembered him vividly and often told me amusing stories about him. So, when I first met Bill, it wasn’t like meeting a stranger and our close friendship began.
Bill was a man of imposing stature. He carried himself well, was always smartly dressed and well groomed. He even had a favourite hairdresser and he spoke of her in glowing terms.
We shared a love of bicycles and often talked about training methods, equipment and the maintenance of our bikes. How to endure the pain associated with long distance, fast cycle races was often a topic for us. Bill proved that he wasnt just a bike rider. He was a genuine, committed cyclist. As a member of the local cycle club, Bill trained hard and competed in the Goulburn to Liverpool cycle races, almost 200 klms of undulating countryside. On one occasion Bill would have been in his grade’s final bunch sprint had he not punctured close to the finishing line and couldn’t continue.
As a perceptionist, Bill’s cycles were full Campagnolo equipped. This Italian Group Set, as it is described, was engineering perfection and was used in those days by leading international cycle teams competing in the annual Tour de France.
Then there was his love of model cars, boats and planes. He was a regular, welcome customer at local specialty model retailers and he had a keen sense of which models would become a collector’s prize. His collection today recognises that fact.
In keeping with his commitment to detail, his models have remained in their original packaging and boxed condition. They represent a genuine investment on Bill’s part, not frivolous spending as some might think.
Here are just two examples from Bills vast collection.
Bill also took great pride in his car and it was always professionally serviced at the specified mileage. Bill ensured that the tyre pressures were at exactly the recommend presure with deep and undamaged tread.
However, there was a lot more to Bill than just collecting models, racing push bikes and looking after his car.
Bill lived in the family home for the greater part of his life. When his mother passed away, Bill and his father, affectionally known as ‘Chummy’ occupied the house and as Bill’s health began to deteoriate, Chummy cared for him.
Chummy instilled in Bill the fact that good tools were essential if a craftsman was to produce good work. Bill observed that advice to the letter and his toolkit of hand and power tools leave absolutely nothing to be desired.
On one occasion I sought Bill’s assistance to complete a photography assignment that included a portrait. Bill agreed on the proviso that if the photo involvied having to pose he would decide how he would be involved.
Here is one of the images that met Bill’s requirements, complete with a drill he purchased according to Chummy’s recommendation. It’s his step adder too. Always the perfectionist.
Then, as Chummy aged, the rolls were reversed and Bill looked after his father.
Bill was well known around his home town and was highly respected. It would be a safe bet that everyone who knew him would have an interesting ‘Bill’ anecdote to relate.
Bill was a lover of good food,particularly a good steak, cooked to his liking. He particularly liked the way his steak was grilled at a motel restaurant not far from his home and he invited SWMBO and I to dine there with him one evening. The moment we entered the dining room, Bill was greeted like royalty. We were ushed to his favourite table. His preferred red wine was produced without a word being spoken and SWMBO and I ordered from the menu. The staff knew exactly what Bill wanted and, sure enough, when the meals arrived Bill had a fine steak complete with chips and a salad.
When it was time to leave, I went to pay. That was the first time I heard Bill in full voice. People driving past the motel, radio playing at full volume, air conditioning on, windows up and engine reving whould have heard every word Bill uttered, even if they were wearing ear plugs. Bill firmly informed me that I was out of order.
On another occasion, when Bill was satisfied that I was competent to drive and understood the location and operation of all his car’s controls, he suggested I drive his Toyota sedan when SWMBO and I took him to lunch at his favourtitew pub in nearby Crookwell.
As we approached the first decent gradient on the Crookwell Road, Bill directed me to push the ‘power button’ on the transmission tunnel and informed me that by so doing we would maintain the same speed up the hill without pushing further down on the accelerator. Then, as we neared the top of the rise, Bill, in full roar directed me to switch the power button to off inorder to save fuel. That was Bill, roaring and thus ensuring that he got his message across.
Bill was always in employment until his failing health made full time work impossible. Never one to sit on his hands, he enrolled at the local TAFE and learned to touch type. He followed that up with a Small Engines course and learned to rebuild lawn mower engines, whipper snipper motors and repair chain saws. That course was followed by enrolling in the TAFE art school where he learned to draw using pencil and charcoal together with oil and water colour painting. He produced some great images that are his sister’s pride and joy.
Bill passed all of his TAFE examinations. His aptitude, determination and approach to his TAFE studies were recognised and rewarded by the local TAFE and the TAFE’s Sydney Head Office administration.
Despite all of his accomplishments Bill was unable to re-enter the work force and this hurt him greatly. Never the less he remained positive, active and enjoyed doing his shopping, banking and taking care of his house and its gardens. He also assisted me in establishing and maintaing quite a number of native trees, shrubs and grasses around Casa Creakingbones. He proved to me in no uncertain terms that he had a ‘ green thumb,’and knew what he was talking about when it came to horticulture.
Recently I was fortunate to read all of Bill’s references that he had received from past employers and also from his school days. Each reference was full of praise for Bill’s atitude, work commitment and competence.
Bill was employed full time at the NSW Teachers College until 1984 when the college was taken over and recreated as the NSW Police Academy. Bill’s services were retained as a general hand by the NSW Police when he satisifed all of the Police strict security and character requirements. I was aware that Bill served for ten years at the NSW Police Academy, finishing there in 1994.
Amongst his references I was delighted to come across one from the Police Academy’s Marketing and Customer Services Co-ordinator which outlined in glowing terms the important and successful role Bill played in fulfilling the Police Academy’s aims and objectives. No easy task I can assure you.
One of Bill’s assignments required him to collect the daily mail from the local post office and on return record and distribute it across the vast Academy. Because of traffic congestion at peak times in the central business district and the limited parking around the post office, it regularly delayed Bill in distributing the mail.
The Academy Senior Police management soon solved Bill’s dilemma. He was sent to the Police Driving School and quickly passed the exams thus becoming a fully qualified police driver.
Thus qualified, Bill was allocated the Academy Commander’s V8 Holden sedan complete with siren and flashing blue lights for the mail run. Thereafter Bill was never delayed, red lights, limited parking at the post office and slow traffic were no longer a problem. Sirens and flashing blue lights certainly assisted in meeting the job requirements.
On another occasion, Bill was in charge of all Academy stores. His absolute adherence to established store protocols ensured that no proper paperwork, no stores issued.
In one famous incident a group of highly trained, heavily armed special weapons and operations squad members arrived at the Academy to engage in special operations training. One problem though, they had neglected to bring some of their heavy calibre rapid fire weapons. Off to the stores they went and on arrival, they ordered Bill to make the Academy’s arsenal available to them. They certainly ordered the wrong man. No paperwork, no entry. They made frantic phone calls. Bill’s stand was fully supported and the training operation was cancelled.
There are many other anecdotes about my friend Bill that I could share with you and perhaps when we gather for a beer or two after his service concludes we may do just that.
Good bye my friend. I’ll miss you. We shared many fun times together, especially at Christmas and on other public holidays when we all went to the South Coast or into the wilds of Bungendore for a feast and fun.