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Tiller Gwendoline Isabella (Gwen)

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Fast Facts
Type of person Individual
Date of birth 1916
Place of birth Pinery farm house
Principal occupation Farm and home duties
Date of death 2010
Place of decease Mallala

Eulogy presented by Mrs Anne Arbon nee Tiller


Thank you all for coming today to help us celebrate our Mum's life at this Thanksgiving Service. We would like to say many thanks for the kind support shown to each of us, before and after Mum' s passing. There are a few people unable to be with us today and we thank them for their apology and know they are with us in spirit. Especially Leon (Allan & Jennifer 's son, working in Karratha) and Teresa's husband Marcus, but it's great that Teresa has been able to come from Perth and join us on this special day.

Mum had a long life of 94 years which she enjoyed to the full. She always knew that she was loved and respected by her family in which, she took great interest and pleasure. Always the invited guest, she never missed a special event or party of grand or great-grandchildren. She had many good friends and acquaintances who held her in high regard.

It was extremely hard for Mum to give up her independence when she moved to Rose Pym Ward. Always keen to give things a go, she had the "grit and determination" to see it through. She enjoyed much in her life, but over all family and music were special. She kept up with the grand and great-grandchildren , living geographically between the families, she was the "hub in the wheel" keeping us all united and close she was just - always there. We were never criticized over plans or a decision, she simply accepted, supported and was a great example to us all. We always knew of her pride in us without unnecessary fuss. But we also knew of any displeasure - without her mentioning a word!

We, as well as Dad, knew that Mum did things in her own time - when she was ready! We well remember the family waiting in the car, and finally Mum would appear! Dad never criticized, in fact we never heard of any discord between the two. They seemed to know each other so well that confrontation was never an issue. Our Grandma once said "I know of no other two people who were more suited."

We were all present at Mum' s bedside when she died and being the close-knit bunch we are, we've found strength with laughs and tears in each other's company. This is one of the legacies that our parents have left us: a warm loving relations hip, acceptance and a steadfast belief in God.

It was a cold, dark, wintry stormy night when our Grandfather Oswald Hancock saddled up the horse and sulky as Grandma Florence had decided, although a bit early, her firstborn was to arrive. Grandpa set off from home, the farm between Pinery and Owen, to Balaklava to call the Doctor. It was the 19th June 1916 and Grandpa could just see ahead a light which he followed all the way. Sure enough the light ahead turned out to be the doctor returning home from an earlier call, so back to the nine mile they went, where Gwendoline Isabella was born. Mum was born without her finger and toenails properly formed - you see she was never ever quite ready! Later Mum's siblings , sister Elvie and brother Lawrie completed the family.

Mum was a very relaxed person; she took everything in her stride. Never fussed, always considered her options and never seemed to ' loose her cool' unless it was something to do with me! Mum suffered a nasty stroke in 1993, where we first encountered Mum' s "grit and determination". She left hospital just to attend Richard and Michelle's wedding, without being able to stand unaided and was bitterly disappointed at not being able to be the organist. But her "grit and determination" won through when she stood for the Auld Lang Syne. That was Mum; " you just need to set your mind to it!" she would say. She regained most of her health later, but in later times when her eyesight failed it took a lot of her independence. We felt that undertaking radiotherapy for a tumor last year would be too much for her. Not so for Mum, she simply got on with it!

Mum attended Pinery and later Owen Primary Schools. She attended piano lessons for two years only (when the teacher left the district the piano lessons ceased). Apparently Mum started her shoe fetish at this young age, which blew out to include handbags. She would set out to piano lessons in her school shoes, stop off just out of her Mother' s view and put on a pair of Grandma's high heeled cast offs (which she kept hidden under a bush) and continue to lesson , returning to hide the high heels before home. After leaving school she lived with Clara and Wok Broster at Grace Plains taking on house duties and it was Mrs. Broster who nurtured Mum 's piano playing gift.

Mum moved to Saddleworth with her family in 1939 , and was a member of the Methodist Church, choir and Girl Comrades. Being war-time she played the piano for Red Cross dances and socials. Between September 1942 and January 1945 and after completing their First Aid/Home Nursing and Air Raid Precaution course, Mum and sister Elvie were ' live-in' workers at "Ka para" Red Cross Convalescent House at Glenelg. Nursing soon gave away to music however and Mum found herself spending most of her time playing the piano or piano accordion entertaining the many troops who passed through the home. Apparently none of these guys measured up to her boyfriend from Sunday School days and in 1942 Mum and Dick Tiller of Grace Plains became engaged.

Dad was serving in the Army and while at camp in Adelaide, Mum stayed close by. On their evening walk Dad bought a sugar bowl for her as a gift. This present was treasured and when he didn't call the next night, she knew that he had been shipped out. As it happened, and by the time she was back home in Saddleworth, he passed through Riverton on his way via the troop train, to serve in Darwin for two years. When Mum packed up her Cameron Terrace house, each grandchild received something special, and Anthony was given the sugar bowl.

ln January 1945, Dad had leave after being away for two years. As soon as Mum had word, she packed up the wedding dress (which she had made - purchasing fabric with war coupons) and they were married at Clarence Park Methodist Church with a reception for 50 guests at the Bohemian Tearooms at a cost of 15 pounds on a very hot and dusty day. It was the 24th January 1945. After the honeymoon on Kangaroo Island Dad went back to camp & Mum returned to Saddleworth. Now a married woman her work at Kapara ceased, so when Dad later moved to Sydney for medical reasons, Mum followed, staying with relatives to be near him. It was a day trip into the Blue Mountains when they heard the news of the Armistice and Mum came back to her famjly, until Allan was born in December 1945

Mum and Dad lived at Grace Plains until their new house at Pinery was built in May 1947. Helen and John were born in November 1948, and then the highlight - Anne was born August 1953! In 1975 , they built a new home and retired in Mallala. In 2008 due to illness Mum became a resident of Rose Pym Mallala Hospital.

A community worker, Mum' s life was very busy. A housewife from the time of boiling the copper for washing, making soap, butter, jams pickles/sauces, hundreds of chocolate cairns (John ate most of them) keeping poultry, milking cows and with many community events to support, baking for the many stalls, suppers and parties.

She was organist, Guild President and Sunday school teacher for the Pinery Methodist Church, Pinery Hall committee member and maker of the stage curtains, due to the fact that Dad let the hall piano slide out of the ute while transporting it, resulting in a re-build. Mum said it was the " best thing that could 've happened."

She was a member of: • Recreation Ground Committee • Pinery Red Cross and was recognized for 60 years service • Owen C.W.A. from 1947, holding all offices and as pianist, choir member and contributed handicrafts • Mallala C.W.A. from 1976, taking office and as Hospital Board Representative • Mallala Uniting Church as organist and fellowship treasurer • Mallala Museum Committee • R.S.L. Auxiliary • Foundation member Mallala Probus Club

Mum played tennis at Pinery, golf at Owen and bowls at Mallala where she attained her Super Veterans Badge.

Mum loved her garden and took great pleasure in the birds which visited her birdbath. Whenever she went away we were instructed to keep the bird bath full even if there was no time to water the garden.

Music was Mum' s great love. A church organist at Pinery, from the age of 14 until retiring at Mallala aged 89. Mum teamed up with Stella Wedding and later Marj Lush performing at many functions. She was pianist for calisthenics, Long Plains Debutant Balls, School Concerts and worked with the late Joyce March for C.W.A. fundraising concerts where Allan, Helen and John remember their best performances! She was an organiser of Pinery Belle of the Ball functions and would relieve each of the band members for their breaks, even taking a turn on the drums. She was extremely amused when a highly qualified musician entertained a gathering once and didn' t know how to play Happy Birthday , but Gwen did!

Mum had perfect pitch and was keen for us all to learn a musical instrument. She could hear a wrong note across the other side of the farm, " play that sharp" or "that's a natural" she would yell! Eleisha remembers being complimented on the " reaching that high G" after singing a Melodrama solo! Part of our family life was sing-along around the piano in the evenings. If a song was too high or low, Mum would simply change key mid-way. Our boarder Roger Underwood, enjoyed these nights, in his words "I remember her remarkable talent". Trips to Adelaide Show often turned to embarrassment and boredom for us when Mum would take to the musical instrument stands and with a crowd gathering around she' d play each of the various electronic organs. At last to Hele n' s relief, a choice was made and Dad finally bought one. Mum took up mandolin lessons, which she played quite well, but it was the violin that we all despised. Grandma Hancock, who was given the unenviable task of accompanying Mum on violin, said once "Your Mother has the ability to pick up any instrument and get a tune, but oh dear the violin I fear will always be beyond her." In time, with lessons, and of course some "grit and determination" Mum finally mastered the violin . Mum has placed her instruments within the family - but Allan has a very limited repertoire on the piano accordion and don' t ask John to play the violin - yet!

Mum loved dancing and even tried out some tap-dancing in her 70s. As youngsters we were taught to dance. She would push the dining table and Dad complete with newspaper aside, on Sunday nights and teach us to waltz to the radio. She decided that the kids of the Pinery district needed to also learn, and conducted lessons in our barn with her piano accordion and one waltz record. Later she teamed up with Uncle Lance Davies who ran dancing lessons in Mallala, for this Mum played the piano mostly without music, just a list of songs written on the back of an old calendar.

Mum was like others of her time, a home dressmaker and skilled knitter, with items often given out. Her five granddaughters are lucky enough to have a crotchet tablecloth and each family was given a hand crotchet baby shawl on the birth of the first child. It was nothing for Mum to measure some-ones arm at a party with her handbag strap - just to be sure of the length.

Mum babysat regularly. Jam tarts and jigsaws were made on these days. Biscuits were made and given to each family to take away on holidays. Mum made the traditional ' cloth puddings' for our Christmas Parties until her eyesight failed . Plum sauce was her specialty. At one time the unforgivable happened. She ran out, which prompted her second youngest grandson to say " well what's the good of a Grandma if she hasn' t got any plum sauce!"

Lots of things we remember about Mum: • The many times both Mum and Dad went shopping with us and then stayed for tea • The basket that came to each of our homes with a mom ay, quiche or chocolate cake • The scraps she brought for our dog • As kids we were fascinated by the fact that Mum actually knew where everything was, even a pair of shorts John hid inside a roll of lino in a cupboard after he had decided that he was too old for short longs! And a pair of shoes that Dad had to locate with a torch when Helen had stuffed them under the dressing table! • Great holidays with the Davies family at Coobowie and Stansbury and later how she enjoyed caravanning not only with us, but with Auntie Elvie and Uncle Lawrie. • The day she got onto my friends horse and trotted around the yard

Mum was interested in everything we did. John showed his 92 year old Mother his new red sports car out of the hospital window. "I need a closer look ," she said. Outside they went, and with much enthusiasm she parked her walker under a tree and lined up for a burn. This was her first sports car ride which she thoroughly enjoyed. The next ride was with Anthony driving her to Middle Beach. On closing the roof for comfort, he was told " No, leave it open for a real sports car experience". On arrival and complete with lovely fresh face and blown back hairstyle she said " I got so excited I forgot to put my seatbelt on, and we even passed a police car!" In 2007 Robert collected her from the Hospital in his 1929 Dodge. She sat, by her choice in the center of the back seat, displaying the royal wave all the way to Pine ry. When Anne told her that he had bought a car instead of going to Europe with her she said " Yep, I'd rather have the car too!"

Mum ran her home with little fuss. Auntie May once said: " The Queen could knock on Gwen' s door, and she' d just say ' Come in, I'll put the kettle on"' . Likewise after the birth of the twins, Auntie May said "She placed them on the bed, stood back and said ' Well, that' s that"' . Mum liked things to be "done properly." It was necessary to have saucers with cups - but they never matched , unless it was shoes and bag. Mum could put stripes with patterns well before it was fashionable . Some days when the men came in for dinner it was "Girls, put the cloth on quick, it'll look like dinner!" many times we ate with pins, scissors and patterns under the tablecloth. However, she did like things to be clean and hated spider webs. I remember standing on a chair in the Queen Victoria Hospital flicking spider webs down quickly before Mum woke from surgery!

Mum missed Dad for 22 years, we had felt Dad say "Come on Gwen, hurry up, I' m waiting" but she wasn' t ready until Wednesday night at 6.40pm. We believe that she is now in good company, free from the nuisance of old age and resting comfortably and peacefully in heaven with Dad.

The 23rd Psalm says so much for us. It' s engraved on Dad' s headstone and will be above Mum. This is our tribute for her.


Related Articles


  • Mrs Anne Arbon (daughter of above)
  • Mallala Museum records

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