Alexander Joseph "Bill" Grumley
Two eulogies deliverd at his funeral
1. Bill Grumley, son
Alexander Joseph (Bill) born on the 23rd October 1917 in Malanda at Matron Varley’s nursing home, was the second child born to Thomas William and Olive Maud Grumley who, after their marriage in Narooma , New South Wales, moved North to commence a new life on the Atherton Tableland with Maude their first born. His two brothers Keith (1920) and Carl (1926) followed.
Dad attended Malanda Primary School from 1923 – 1931 and recalled having to walk 3 miles to school, bare foot from home at Thiaki Creek Road. One of his many stories of school life apart from the many pranks and the deserved punishment of ‘six of the best’ was to proudly boast that he was ultimately excused from singing to tend the garden and forestry plot. He passed his scholarship and immediately obtained employment at the Malanda butter factory.
When of age he helped his father who was in partnership with a Mr Morgan in a daily car service – ‘trips arranged anywhere’. He drove the different makes of cars in service and enabled his passengers to attend such important events as the Malanda show.
Ultimately he obtained employment as a service car driver with the Cairns Tableland Motor Service Limited better known by the locals as The White Car Company and drove up and down the Gillies Highway on numerous occasions. It was during this time that he met the love of his life Edna Royes, a Mareeba girl who was working in Yungaburra. They were married on 10th May 1941.
In the following year he and his younger brother, Carl joined the Citizen Military Forces and travelled to Brisbane to begin basic training and upon completion his request to be in tanks met with a negative response from the officer conducting the interview. Well then artillery? No. What about infantry? No. Okay I may as well join the navy! No Bill you do not remember me but many years ago on my honeymoon you drove my wife and I all over the Tableland and impressed me with your driving capability. There is a real need for driver mechanics to maintain vehicles and transport supplies. Thus began a new phase in his life that would have a profound effect over many subsequent decades. Finally, as Craftsmen, Dad and brother Keith joined the Australian Imperial Force on the Island of Morotai in Indonesia until the end of WWII.
After his discharge from the AIF he returned to his wife and family and a house was built at 19 Monash Avenue next door to his brother Keith and wife Erin and family. Erin and Edna had been assisted by their father-in-law in securing the blocks of land. Four children were born to Edna and Bill. Myself 1942, sisters Kay 1944 and Janine 1948 and brother Ken 1950. Next door there were ultimately another five young Grumleys and we became just one big happy family which is and always will be ongoing along with Carl and Liz (both deceased) and their three children .
Dad and his brother Carl began a carrying business, expanded into the supply of sand, gravel, stone and fire wood. Dad continued on his own for more than three decades with occasional help from his father. Throughout Dad’s working life, it was his earnest wish to adequately provide for his family at all times. He was blest in his choice of companion and was devastated when Mum succumbed to dementia and died in 1997. However he was greatly consoled by the fact that the union had resulted in such a loving and caring network of children and partners, grandchildren and great grandchildren.
Upon his discharge and return to civilian life in Malanda, Dad became a member of the Sub Branch of the RSL and for more than 70 years marched on Anzac Day, attended meetings and was duly recognised with the conferring of a special award in recognition of his service. He was honoured to be given the opportunity to take the salute and hand over the torch to the younger generation. Victory in the Pacific Day was always a special day to lay a wreath in memory of his comrades.
It would be remiss of me not to mention his many sporting achievements - swimming, rugby league and billiards. The latter until very recently. From an early age, he enjoyed playing the game of Rugby League eventually representing Eacham. This was recently recognised by Bill Hapgood who presented a medallion to the oldest living representative . As a member of the Malanda Billiards Club he was granted a life membership and continued playing well into his mid 90s.
Dad died as he lived – without a wrinkle on his face and brow!! He was a gentleman, kind and considerate. Always willing to assist, thinking of what he could do for his fellow man. He lived his life in a simple way – lovingly to his family and extended family, providing for his family, teaching us through example to be principled, honest, caring and charitable.
Simple in his love for his religion.
Simple in his compassion for man, beast and nature.
Simple in his love for Mum.
Simple in his joy and the happiness that his children, grandchildren and great grandchildren gave to him.
As he said to an angel who nursed him in the last week, I’ve had a ‘normal’ life to which she replied: “Oh no Mr Grumley, anything but normal. YOU LIVED AN EXTRAORDINARY LIFE!”
And as we gather today, the one word that stands out most in people’s assessment of our Father is “he was a GENTLEMAN”.
2. Courtney Black, granddaughter:
I am Courtney Black, Kay’s second daughter, and today I am speaking on behalf of all of my cousins, Tiffany and Jaala (Jan’s children), Jay, Norman and Slitch (Ken’s children) and my siblings, Kesree and Craig and of course all of the beautiful nineteen Great-Grandchildren.
I wanted to tell you that although every funeral is sad, you couldn’t know how close each one of us felt we were to Grandad and how much of a hole he leaves in our lives.
Not just because we have countless memories of him, but because he taught us lessons worth learning…
Like enjoying the simple things in life – like a cold beer after a hard day’s work, or collecting stamps or fishing or pulling carrots from the ground to share with us or taking us for a swim at Clifton beach.
Like compassion for people or things you don’t even know – like the way he would visit those in the nursing home who had no visitors so they wouldn’t feel alone or like when he rescued a crocodile that was shot in the head and left to die, because he couldn’t bear to see any animal suffer
Like appreciation for the beauty in this world – there were thousands of photographs of everything he saw and cherished – and even a whole roll of film of his left ear because he held the camera back to front!
And his love for nature and his garden and particularly those orchids and the semi-precious stones he worked so hard to find
Like being faithful to those you love and his unwavering belief that one day he would be united with his beloved Ted and of course his daughter Janine
Like unconditional love – like when Uncle Ken married Aunty Alice and suddenly her children were as much one of us as if they always had been and how he welcomed every one of our partners and their families into his life. They were all Grumleys as far as he was concerned
Like strength – he never judged us or interfered and yet each one of us leant on him for support in good times and in bad
Like true Christian spirit - for not only practising his faith, quietly and genuinely, but in his everyday actions of helping anyone who needed a hand – moving house, checking in on you, being the first one to turn up to help
And being grateful for life – whether it was bouncing a grandchild or great-grandchild on his knee while singing a ditty to them or being so happy to hear your voice even if it was a while between phone calls…
My grandfather was my happy place, my safe haven, the man who stood by me and all of us, he was my champion, my rock, and proof that nobility has nothing to do with money or possessions. Quite simply I adored him and he will be missed but never forgotten.
I video taped him years ago (when he was in his late 70s) because that was when people generally died and I wanted to make sure he was remembered! OF course I should have known being a Grumley there was a good chance he’d live to a hundred but nonetheless we did hours and hours of taping. At the end of the filming he said to me he forgot to say something really important on the tape. I promised I would get it at the next session which I did but he told me anyway… he had a message for his children (including his son Bill who he described as his prince in a note he wrote the night he passed away)…
He said, “Make sure they know how much I love them and that if I had one regret in my life it is that I didn’t have more time to spend with them when they were young.”
And maybe that was why he did live so long.
To get that precious time back and build those extraordinary memories in all of us so that he will live on through us forever.
God bless you Grandad. Rest in peace.