13-02-1940 to 08-01-2020
William Harold Armstrong (known to us all as Bill) was born in Sunshine on 13 February 1940 to Myrtle and Harold. He was the youngest son and brother to Joy, Archie and Colin.
They lived on a farm up Foster Road for a number of years and then in 1951 moved to a home opposite the Gleesons which they had relocated from Mornington. His Mum milked cows for Curly Johnston and Bill attended Mirboo North High (he had previously attended Boolarra South Primary School). After leaving school Bill worked in a fruit shop in Church St Morwell and then gained an apprenticeship at La Mode where he serviced sewing machines. He was a fitter and turner by trade and when La Mode closed down Bill moved to the SEC, finished his apprenticeship and worked there until he retired in 1995.
I knew Bill from 1969 and he, his guitar and mower were always out in the community doing things for others. His mother Myrtle was a wonderful woman too, famous for her flowers, garden and vanilla slices. Bill shared his fruit and vegetables with all.
Bill’s music was a great part of his life. In the early days he played with Frank Bosch, Neville and Aileen Boothman in a band playing at pubs, dances, parties, Dalkeith and Heritage Manor (and probably many other places)!
In 1972 Bill along with Frank Bosch and Douglas Black joined and ran the Boolarra Cub Pack. He was ‘Chil’ (small fast bird) and was he fast. Every year there was a big deal district Billy Cart Derby at the top end of the Pondage – a very steep concrete ramp running down to the water. Bill built his billy cart and won the Fathers Billy Cart Race. He was very proud. He was involved in the Cub Pack building things, games, outdoor activities, camping and of course singing around the camp fire. Bill was there with his guitar and all the boys loved him.
Bill was also in the Army Reserve with Ray Beebee and Ian Place. They met each week, went on maneuvers once a month and were sent to places to help out in times of trouble.
Bill always attended Church. He was there when I joined in 1970, welcoming people, singing and reading his old bible. His faith was a big part of his life and he lived his Christianity out in every way with love and no fuss.
He continued to play in bands – with his brother Col and Barry Gemmel on drums. They played a lot of Saturday night dances – Hallston, Jumbuck, Allambee, Jeeralang North and they were wonderful nights.
Bill worked hard around the town gardening, cutting lawns, pruning roses (he insisted that I couldn’t do them properly) he cut the grass at the Hall, the flagpole and both the Catholic and Christ Church (he always felt this gave him a bet both ways).
Bill was also a member of the cemetery trust for 35 years. Every Saturday he would be up at the Cemetery with his mower and whipper snipper cutting grass and keeping the graves tidy. On Sunday he always took flowers up to his Mum. Bill loved his Mum and only days before he died he organized to have some Crepe Myrtle trees planted up there for her.
In the Church Bill continued to provide music, bible readings and caring for others. He started a Bill and the Boys night up at Mt Holly where we would have a BBQ and then a concert. He started with Neville and Aileen Boothman and later others joined in. He always encouraged others to join in and it was here that Rosemary started out her second career (at 60) as a singer and where he first met Eleanor who had a voice like an angel. These nights continued until the end with the last one being a wonderful celebration as Bill played with all the bands he’d had connections with. He loved that night – said it was better than any funeral he would have.
Lastly, Bill loved his DVD’s. He had the biggest collection (over 20,000) of anyone I know and he and John Lubawski would meet each week to discuss their new items. He also had records, tapes, and if you wanted anything for a special occasion Bill was the man to go to. Bill was lifetime member of the Bairnsdale Country Music Club and the Tyers Acoustic Club. He went to their activities always dressed for the occasion with tight jeans, a fringed jacket, fancy hat and very polished boots.
During his last couple of years Bill was not always well but he was amazingly brave, very non-complaining and it was with great regret that he stopped doing some of his community tasks but until the end he sang, read his bible, and continued with his friendships. One his favourite bands was the Country Wanderers with his nephews and it was whilst listening to this surrounded by love and his family that Bill slipped away on Wednesday 8 January at 7.20pm. He was 36 days short of his 80th Birthday. We all remember Bill with love – especially my cat Baillie) and thank God for his wonderful life.
Robern Lubawski and Ron Armstrong.