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Tiller Margaret Helen

From Mallala
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Fast Facts
Type of person Individual
Date of birth 1938
Place of birth Adelaide S.A.
Principal occupation school teacher, homemaker, community volunteerr
Date of death 2020
Place of decease Adelaide S.A.

Well known Mallala lady, Margaret Tiller, a former teacher and councillor, who was instrumental in the establishment of countless groups around the district, died on 31st May 2020 after a battle with leukaemia.

Margaret Helen Tiller (nee Field) was born on December 28, 1938, at Prospect, the first of five children to Bill and Bertha Field. She grew up in Renown Park and attended Brompton Primary and later Woodville High schools, where she completed her leaving certificate.

Margaret then spent a year working at Weapons Research Establishment before making the decision to study at teachers college.

Her first posting was at Mallala Primary School from 1957- 59, traveling on her scooter every Monday morning to Mallala, where she boarded during the week with Mr and Mrs Bob Lindsay of Cameron Terrace, and returning to be with her family at Renown Park on Friday nights.

After her posting at Mallala, Margaret returned to Woodville Primary School to teach and later was invited to Brompton Primary as a demonstration teacher.

It was after her return to Adelaide that a romance blossomed with a young farmer from Mallala,Don Tiller. They were married at Croydon Methodist Church on March 14, 1964 and lived on the family farm at Mallala. Over the years they were blessed with three children Neil, Annette and Brian.

In 1976, along with other mothers, Margaret was instrumental in organizing and establishing a play group at Mallala Primary School which brought many young parents and active children under her guidance and vision. This was a very busy group and laid the foundation for the Child Parent Centre which was a valuable resource for keeping up the school enrollment numbers.

After having her children, Margaret re registered as a teacher, spending two years at Virginia Primary School before returning to Mallala Primary School part time in the late 1970s. It was evident she had a profound philosophy on student learning, and they reaped the benefit from her experience, knowledgeable depth and high skill level.

True to her greening skills and knowledge, Margaret set up the ‘Tree Nursery’ at the Mallala School which became a valuable school and community project. Trees from this nursery were used to recognize the school’s centenary and to plant corridors on some roadsides.

Trees were also sold at a nominal price to the Mallala and District Greening Australia committee, which encouraged farmers and rural homeowners to establish ground protection and tree corridors for native animals and birds to move and shelter.

Not content to rest, her next project was to be the ‘Crown Jewel’ of her greening objectives. She put her energy into developing Altarama – a disused paddock next to the school,- into an area for holding indigenous activities, amphitheatre and fitness circuits, with many hours of tree/scrub planting to green up this area.

When she retired in 1990, Margaret’s legacy had left an indelible mark on numerous students and their learning development.

Margaret was also involved in other community groups - president of the Mallala Netball Club and later secretary of the Adelaide Plains Netball Association - and even completed the City to Bay in 1982!

Post retirement, not content to sit idle, she became a Councillor for the District Council of Mallala from 1990 to 2001 and continued afterwards to read agendas and attend council meetings in the gallery to champion different causes as they arose. Some of these included the Mallala Rockies Reserve, the police block and a register for public land within the council area. She was passionate about the community in which she lived and was not afraid to challenge the status quo.

Service to the council and wider community was recognized in 2002 when she was awarded Citizen of the Year for the District Council of Mallala. Her dedication and passion towards the community was again recognized on the Tuesday after she passed away with the council flag being lowered.

In 1991, Margaret joined the committee of the Mallala and District Historical Committee and museum as a council representative. Her earlier suggestion for articles to be displayed more artistically came into play, and gradually she worked her way into updating the displays at a time when the building was in a poor condition and money was very tight.

One of Margaret’s early successes was to instigate the annual maintenance grant from the D.C of Mallala of $5000 toward the improvement and maintenance of the old mill building.

When members queried the possibility of obtaining grants from the History Trust of SA, Margaret explained it was first necessary to become accredited, which eventually led to obtaining the first big grant of more than $12,000 from the Trust, to build and update the displays in the Southern Gallery.

When various schools visited the museum, it was teacher Margaret who was in her element and organized the other willing members of the committee on how to present informative sessions to the children. This proved a very interesting learning period over many years for committee and children alike.

Margaret was involved in many projects at the museum, but another major interest involved a grant to set up a website, later named the “Mallala.nowandthen” wiki site. Margaret’s interest and skill of delving into old newspaper articles on Trove to back up the authenticity of the articles was greatly appreciated by other members of the committee.

She was treasurer of the Mallala Museum committee for many years and worked well with president Ray Earl and current chairman Marcus Strudwicke – although always ready to defend her strong beliefs and push hard for what she considered were important requirements.

The amount of work and time that Margaret dedicated to the museum both as a committee member, office bearer and behind the scenes is immeasurable, and she was always supported in all of her pursuits by husband Don.

She was a loving and proud wife, mother and grandmother, who revelled in her family’s farming, school, sporting and social activities.

Being diagnosed with leukaemia didn’t stop Margaret’s zest for life and strong sense of family and community. The family was fortunate to have Margaret spend six days at home with them and her close friends, before returning to Mary Potter Hospice, where she passed away late on May 31.

A committed and passionate community member, mentor, pioneer and champion of the people, Margaret’s generosity with her time, gifts and love to her family, grandchildren and wider community, is unsurpassed, and will be greatly missed.

Perhaps what sums up Margaret the best, was a quote read at her private service:

What is the best gift ever received? Better still, what is the best gift you ever gave?

Perhaps you will recall that in each instance, the best gift was the one that was tied with the heartstrings of the giver, of yourself, one that included a part of self.

External Links

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  • The newspaper "The Plains Producer" courtesy of the editor Louise Michael from information provided by Margaret's family

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