Sadly, last week longtime Lismore resident Phyllis Bartlett died after a very full life – Phyllis was 100 years old.
Phyllis was from two of the district’s pioneering families. Her father Phillip Edwards was a long time farmer and butcher at Wyrallah and was a descendant of the cedar cutter Benjamin Edwards who arrived at Gundurimba in 1856. Her mother, Mary (nee McDonald), was a descendent of Alexander McDonald and Alexander Thorburn both of whom arrived in the Richmond district in the 1860s.
Phyllis grew up at Wyrallah through the depression years when her parents did many kindnesses in the community about them. One anecdote of her youth was that she obtained an apprenticeship in Lismore to be a ladies hairdresser. However, her career lasted less than the first day when her father arrived to say that his daughters were not going to take paid employment and promptly took her home!
Phyllis served in the Land Army in Tenterfield
During the war Phyllis served in the Land Army in Tenterfield for a period before returning to Wyrallah where she and her sisters cared for neighbours’ dairies after their menfolk had enlisted. It was during this time that she met and married Perce Bartlett, from Melbourne, who was training in Casino on his way to New Guinea with the 6th Division.
At war’s end the couple were reunited and started married life in Melbourne. The Victorian winters and the isolation from family had them returning to Lismore in 1948. Perce bought a cream run and a petrol agency in Kyogle where they lived for the next twenty years. They were popular people there and both played tennis and golf. Perce was also a member of the Lion’s Club at the time the Club built the Lion’s Road linking Kyogle and Beaudesert.
A corner store in Lismore Heights
When it was evident that cream production was coming to an end, they sold out and bought a corner store in High Street, Lismore Heights. Small stores meant very long hours. It was the norm that customers would knock on the door hours after closure because they needed cigarettes. After selling this business they eventually settled into a new house, 1 Canterbury Chase within the Camelot Heights housing development opposite the Kadina High School. They remained there for the remainder of their active lives.
Perce predeceased Phyllis in 1999. They are survived by all three of their children, Jenny Palmer who became an educational psychologist, Joanne Tom who taught at the Goonellabah School for many years and Stephen who was a well-known footballer playing for the Kyogle and Brothers clubs. They were loving grandparents to their eight grandchildren who in turn adored them. There are now ten great-grandchildren.
Phyllis entered Fromelles Manor in September 2019 and was well cared for there. One sadness there was she was unable to celebrate her hundredth birthday with family and friends because the home was locked down by covid restrictions.
Phyllis had lived the century precisely from the Spanish Flu to COVID-19.