Vale Bill Walker, 1933-2019

Bill Walker was born on September 29, 1933 in Taree,the second of five children born to John and Margaret Walker. 

Upon completing primary school in Taree he was enrolled at St Stanislaw College in Bathurst. On finishing school he studied law at Sydney University. After graduating he commenced practice on his own as a solicitor in Parramatta. 

In 1960 a business friend introduced Bill to a young lady, Helen, who had only been in the country around three months, and the love story commenced. An empty Chianti bottle still sits above the kitchen cupboards in their home as a reminder of their first date.

Bill and Helen married on Remembrance Day, 1961. Not long after the marriage they set up their first family home in Northmead. During this time their daughter Louise was born. A couple of years later they moved to Pennant Hills, and it was while here than son John arrived on the scene. By then Bill's practice was flourishing. He took on a partner and the firm became known as Walker and Raphael.

In 1968 Bill decided he needed a break from the pressures of the profession so he and Helen agreed to abandon the city life for a rural life away from the law. They purchased a farm property at Kippax near Wingham and set about being beef farmers. It was while here that Terri was born. 

Within three years an opportunity arose to re-enter the legal profession, and Bill joined the firm of Murray M Hooke and Summerville at their Taree Office in 1971.

In 1972 Bill and Helen sold the Kippax farm and purchased a small acreage on the river on Combined Street, Wingham. The old house on the site was to be the family home for the next few years until a new one was built alongside. They  moved into the new house in 1977. During the 1978 floods, less than a year after moving in, the house was inundated by the Manning River.

Bill had already commenced his foray into local government becoming an alderman on Wingham Municipal Council in 1974. By 1977 he had become the mayor, a position he held until the council amalgamation in 1980.

During the early to mid 1980s Bill gained his unrestricted pilot's licence. He had also spread his business interests beyond his legal practice, joining with others in a large rural subdivision south of Taree.

There were a number of big changes over the next few years. The legal practice changed names and identities a few times and Bill and Helen moved home a few times. With the amalgamation of the municipal councils came the City of Greater Taree. Bill became deputy mayor and also a delegate to the then County Council. From 1982 until 1992 he served as its chairman. His last year in local government was 1995.

In the 1990s Bill also got into the hotel game. Who could forget Arthur's Bar? At the time it was the smartest place to have a drink and be seen.

Bill finally retired as a solicitor in 1995. Post retirement Bill bought the Tinonee General Store. Bill wanted someone he knew and trusted to commit to managing the business, so Joan Ferris joined the team and ran the business with Bill in the background. Eventually he sold the store to Joan and Doug, but stayed on 'monitoring and advising' in an unpaid capacity.

On Australia Day 1999, Bill's service to the community was recognised with an Order of Australia medal.

Bill and Helen had enjoyed the Gold Coast experience for some time, and eventually took the plunge and moved there permanently in 2004. They returned to Taree seven years ago primarily because of Bill's health, and the comfort of knowing the family were all still in the Manning.

Bill is remembered as a wonderful business partner and respected employer - he was admired by the employees, with many of them attending Bill's funeral to pay their respects despite nearly 25 years having passed.

He is also remembered as being a very generous man. One feature of this generosity was providing a home for Helen's parents to reside in throughout their marriage. 

Helen says travelling with Bill were some of the most enjoyable times of their lives. She says they were blessed to have been able to travel, often with friends, and have the most fabulous experiences. 

Bill is survived by his wife Helen, Louise, John and Tomomi, Terri and Adrian, and grandchildren Jacob, Zac, Nicholas, Angela, Bella, Harry and Charlie.