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Tiller Delphie Muriel

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Fast Facts
Type of person Individual
Date of birth 1929
Place of birth Grace Plains
Principal occupation Farmer and home duties
Date of death 2012
Place of decease Mallala Hospital

Eulogy written and presented by Mrs Anne Arbon (nee Tiller - niece of above)

THE LIFE OF DELPHIE MURIEL TILLER 29/9/1916 - 23/11/2012 Aged 96 years

It was always thought that Delphie Muriel or Auntie Delph, was born on the 26th of September in 1916. However on applying for her Birth Certificate Extract in 1977, the prelude to embarking on a "big aeroplane" to visit Japan, it was found that her actual Birth Date was 29th of September . The fifth child of Charles Frederick and Muriel Tiller (nee Angel) she was born at home at "Grace House" - later named "Tillevan" at Grace Plains . Just before her first birthday, Delphie' s mother Muriel, having given birth to twins 10 days previously , died after complications from appendicitis surgery. Charles then found himself widowed with seven children, less than seven years of age. Nellie, May and twins Tom and Richard (Dick) with "home help" remained with their Father. Newborn twins, Vera and Jack were dispatched to relatives -Aunt Henrietta Hall and Aunt Elizabeth May Hawkins respectively. Little Delphie Muriel went to live with Charles' other sister Rosetta Irish (Aunt Rose) in Mallala. Tragic circumstances call for necessary measures, but unlike Vera and Jack who remained with their respective Aunt's into adulthood , and after much consideration, Delphie 'came home' as a two year old. Perhaps a photo taken of Delphie as a 12 month old with the inscription , "To dear Daddy, with little Delphie' s Love", was enough for Charles to insist that his little girl return. Later Charles married Mary Victoria Evans, and Delphie became the older half sister of Gladys and Gordon .

Delphie remained in her home unmarried...... "too fussy and too busy for that," with Tom, Nell and Gordon . The four-some lived at home together for 84 years and were known to the district as Aunties and Uncles to everyone. They became "Grandparents" to our family. They visited often at home and on holidays, and attended school functions and events and so on. With Tom's passing, then as Nellie passed also, Gordon ' s health failed. Delph, until the age of almost 95 continued to keep house and care for Gordon - her life's commitment. In August 2011 it was finally time to re-locate to " Butler ' s View" in Mallala . Delph was just happy that "Gordon will be looked after," such was her dedication

Delphie followed her elder sisters Nellie and May, and brother s Tom and Richard (Dick) to the Grace Plains Primary School for her education until completing Grade Four . Her education then continued at Pinery Primary School until completing Grade 8. She sat and passed her "Qualifying Certificate" examinations at the Owen Primary School, probably a daunting experience for her quiet nature. By this time, Delphie had "had enough school", and did not pursue any further education unlike her older siblings. She preferred to "just be at home ."

We have heard many stories about little Delphie - or "Squirty ," as affectionately named by her older brothers as she followed them about the farm. Tom, being the robust would drag Delphie in her pram up the high end of the dam, and Dick who I've no doubt had the bright idea in the first place, would then give her a good shove and watch her fly down the hill...into the water! We can only be thankful that she survived many a prank, even when Dick sat under her cot and lit all the tassels of her quilt with a candle! In Delphie' s words, "it' s a wonder I turned out as good as I did! "

Life for a young woman on the farm usually meant cooking and cleaning for the household. Cows were to be milked, pigs fed and poultry raised. Cream , milk and eggs were sold for income. Delph was very fond of gardening, and tending her many flower beds, still using the hand-push mower well into her later years. She developed "The Park" across the drive from the house garden with shrubs and succulents, and was a dab hand with paint, when pots and any bits of junk decoration could be found to brighten up a spot. Delphie always had flowering plants, and many a posy was made for different functions, weddings, Red Cross, birthday s and hospital visits. Delphie took an interest in cake icing, producing wedding and birthday cakes on demand . She submitted floral and cooking exhibits in the Hamley Bridge and Balaklava Shows, often winning prizes. A "ladies afternoon out," often required the making of a sponge for afternoon tea, and always a posy for the host .

Sewing became a necessity at home, mending and patching, but Delphie took some dressmaking lessons and made all of her own clothes and hats to match. In her early life a horse drawn merchant visited regularly when fabric and sewing notions were purchased. Delphie' s 21st birthday party was a fancy affair held in the barn with "lots of coloured lights." She took on "paid dressmaking services," making children's clothing and party dresses for young ladies. A list of some of her work is presented today the prices are very good! With Nell they also did a lot of sewing for the children of the district . At one time the Tiller Girls " knitted the guernseys for the entire Grace Plains Football Team. She took on dressmaking and her items sold in a store in North Adelaide , and particularly smocking which was Delph' s specialty. Her work on the pink nighty, smocked at the waist and yoke on display today, won first prize in the Country Women's Association, and various other Adelaide competitions. Fancywork with embroidered satin-stitched flowers was her specialty, obtaining a perfect even stitch on doilies and supper-cloths, gaining many prizes.

A member of the Pinery Red Cross, she knitted countless socks for the troops in the Second World War. Delphie, with all other ladies of the district, worked extremely hard to fund-raise. She made many soft toys for sale, particularly dozens of "koalas" made from old fur coats and stoles, given by the ladies of the district. Allan ' s koala has met its demise, but John still has his brown kangaroo - very special! Felt flowers were also made out of old hats and more smocking, which was a favourite of American soldiers, who purchased and sent these items home. Red Cross wartime dances held at the Pinery Hall involved the making of many cream cakes, tarts and sponges all cooked by the local ladies and Delph was a part of this. Our mum - Gwen, taught Delph to dance for these functions, and later Delph and Gordon often travelled about the district enjoying local balls. Delph won the title "Miss Red Cross 1943", raising the magnificent total of 217pounds 10 shillings, our equivalent of $43500, which was a huge sum at that time. She was awarded her "70 Years Red Cross Service Badge" with the Pinery Red Cross Branch on display.

During her schooling years at Pinery, Delphie learned to play the piano, basketball and tennis. Later she played tennis for Grace Plains. Mid calf length white dresses and stockings were the uniform, and as "the men took the car to cricket, we had to walk to the courts, (approx 6 kilometres)!" In more recent times, Delph and Nell never missed a ride with "the boys" to the local cricket match. Delph kept watch noting the score while Nell knitted. They also travelled with Father to many a sheep sale around the state. Delph learned to drive during the war years, often driving the "little green Aussie" or the three toned, blue and maroon Ford Customline . Which was no mean feat planning a trip to Balaklava, carefully planning only "left-hand turns." (To avoid crossing the traffic) This vehicle was widely known throughout the district. With its V8 engine and four occupants (2 felt hats in front, and 2 ladies complete with carefully chosen gloves and hats in the back) the foursome travelled many miles and kilometres together. A 'trip to town' was almost a weekly occurrence. These days involved meeting at May's then with the "three girls" combing Rundle St - later the Mall, in search of all manner of sewing bargains. The Adelaide Show was a must on the calendar and many an hour would be spent studying in minute detail, the displays of dressmaking, cooking and cake decorating. From personal experience I know just how long it took!

Apart from childhood holidays at Henley Beach and two weeks in March for the Annual Country Cricket Carnival, staying at May's home and cooking for the men, holidays were few. However in 1967, May, her husband George, Nell and Delph toured to Cairns by bus. In 1976, Nell and Delph flew to Japan on a three week tour. A massive experience! Later in a succession of Fairlanes, Sunday drives were common. Mostly to beach towns and often Pt. Parham visiting the Matthews family and J.B' s family at Fisherman's Bay was "the go". Delph would pack a picnic and thermos, and with plentiful ice-cream stops, the day was complete. In later times, Saturday night meals at the Parham Social Club were a regular stop. Our home on the Nine-Mile was also a welcome port of call. Sometimes an afternoon tea call by Nell and Delph, but often an evening get-together with the men, with a loaf of bread toasted for supper .

From earlier times the Tillevan" home became a depot for any local children needing to be cared for while their mothers were ill or infirmed. Both Delph and Nell loved children, and cared for many relatives and neighbours "little ones," (some for up to 6 weeks) at a time. Allan, Helen, John and myself have many memories of "staying down at Aunties," being teased by Tom, ignored by Gordon and fussed over by "the girls." Our memories of pumping ice cold water from the underground tank into the old battered aluminium cup and calling the men inside to "hot scones and coffee" with the big dinner gong under the back veranda is very clear. On one visit, I gave Aunty Delph a white kitten. "Kitty" became a completely spoiled and pampered pet, and was the start of her love of cats...a few too many cats... In later times Delphie took an interest in AFL Football. She quietly sided with the Crows, and tolerated The Power albeit just to please me! But cricket was the family sport. With the Tiller "passion" for the game, it was natural for her to show interest. She even wrote about it in her Grade 7 Article, which is on display. Nell and Delph both held "Ladies tickets", and accompanied Charles to the Adelaide Oval on many occasions.

The Tiller family were always dedicated members of the Grace Plains Methodist Church. She attended Worship and Sunday School from Kindergarten to young adult age. Delphie and Nell were communion and floral stewards. They were members of the Grace Plains Ladies Guild - later Fellowship. Combined they spent many hours making aprons and other items for sale with the proceeds contributing to Fellowship funds. One of their biggest disappointments was the closure of their church. They then became members of the Mallala Uniting Church Fellowship until health restricted them from attending .

Delph had a good sense of humour and often suffered a fit of the giggles. With a sharp and accurate mind and excellent memory for dates, she remembered birthdays and especially the names of all the nieces and nephews, great and great-great. She loved all the "little ones," and the birth of a new baby into the family was always great excitement. Her hearing and eyesight was amazing. Only recently, Allan showed her pictures of Oscar on his mobile phone. While scrolling down, she recognised a different photo, "that' s our old tractor" she said. Her last outing was a tour of the farm just before harvest. No glasses needed , she was happy to see that all was in order with wonderful crops.

In the latter time of Gordon and Delphie's living at home, it was necessary for Helen and I to take them shopping and to appointments. Reading labels and documents was never an issue, managing without glasses easily. During this time, Gordon's health was rapidly declining. Fulfilling her promise to Nell, she was still keeping house and caring for Gordon (with help from Rosemary) into her 95th year. Although she held out unrealistic hope that they could stay forever in their home together, it was to her great relief when they settled into Butler's View. Her devotion to him was all consuming.

It surprised us that she managed to settle after Gordon's passing. But eleven months later and after celebrating her 96th birthday, the call to complete rest became so strong, that she just wanted to be re-united with "everyone else." In her last hours, Allan, Helen, John and I were able to say goodbye . Her response to John' s harvest update was amazing - ever the farmer. In the early hours of Friday the 23rd of November 2012, Auntie Delph left this life and was re-united with all of her family who have gone before. Delphie has been laid to rest between her brothers and sisters at the Grace Plains Cemetery on the 29th November 2012. At last "hot scones and coffee" all together.

P.S. Thoughts from Anne Arbon

It has not been easy to write of Delphie's life without including Nell, Tom and Gordon . It was perhaps a unique situation , where four unmarried members of the one family remained in the family home for their entire lives. The original farm occupied by the Tiller's since the 1870s, the old chimney still stands. The present house, built in 1902, is now occupied by Kelvin and Ali, and their son Oscar is the 6th generation Tiller occupant. Four different individuals: Tom, the easygoing, laid-back and fun-loving; Nellie, caring, the spokesperson and peace-maker; Gordon , reserved and sensitive; and Delphie, who was a quiet achiever with a creative flair, each contributing in their own way and working the farm together. They instilled in us the value of "extended family." They so much enjoyed the "Bi-Annual Tiller parties" at the Pinery Hall, and were delighted that the farmers still meet for the annual crop-walk . They were well known in the district and affectionately referred to as "Aunties and Uncles" by all. As for Allan, Helen, John and myself Anne, they were as "Grandparents," and they would always be a part of our lives. We loved them. They lived by strong principals and were extremely proud and protective of their heritage.

And as has been quoted by many in this last week with Auntie Delph' s passing;

"The End of an Era."

Thoughts by Mrs Helen Verner (nee Tiller - niece of the above)

Aunty Delph Aunty Delph was very proud of her family and their farming life. This was demonstrated on many occasions when I took her and Gordon to Gawler for shopping outings. This included haircuts, fuel, 12 loaves of bread, lunch and most importantly , the re-stocking of the medication .

After handing in numerous prescriptions at the chemist, we would sit down to wait. With so many medications it was quite a wait. It never mattered who sat alongside of Delphie, she would immediately start up a conversation, exchanging names, where they lived, and of course telling them "we are farmers." After approximately two minutes, she would be able claim some sort of relationship to them. Even if she couldn't, she would proceed to introduce me as, one of her nieces.

Continuing on, telling them how many other nieces she had, how many nephews she had, where they all lived, what they did and of course the ones who were farming! How many children, and grand children they had, and how many twins were in the family etc. etc!!

By then, they would be leaving their seat and saying goodbye, only to make way for the next customer to sit. Then she would start all over again! But it was all worth it, to see the glow of pride on her face.

It seems unreal now that they have all gone, after growing up with them being such a big part of our lives. Over the years, the roles had changed and we had become their carers, helping them to keep their independence, which was so important. We have already noticed a significant gap in our lives. At times it was busy, but they were always very appreciative of our efforts. It was a privilege to be there for them, until the end.

Written and presented by Helen Verner - (nee Tiller - Niece)

Like pilgrims we wander, until death takes our hand, and we start on the journey to God's promised land - A place where we'll find no suffering or tears. Where time is not counted in days, months, or years - And in that fair city that God has prepared are unending joys to be happily shared with all of our loved ones who patiently wait on death's other side to open the gate.

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