FAREWELL TO BETTY
TRIBUTES PAID TO ELIZABETH BICKNELL, A SPIRITED, TALENTED FAMILY WOMAN AND CHAMPION BOWLER
Elizabeth Bicknell 1931-2021
Elizabeth ‘‘Betty’’ Bicknell has been remembered as an elegant and spirited family woman and as a much-loved mother and grandmother to four generations of children.
Mrs Bicknell died in Shepparton on July 31, aged 90.
Son Brendan described his mother as a busy, lively woman who enjoyed a ride on a Harley-Davidson motorcycle on her 85th birthday, and as someone who loved a party.
‘‘Usually she was one of the last to leave any family party . . . she suffered from FOMO — Fear of Missing Out — she didn’t want to miss out on anything,’’ Mr Bicknell said.
Born on February 11, 1931, to Congupna farmers Bill and Ivy Farrell, Mrs Bicknell endured a sickly childhood, and had her thyroid removed at a young age.
She attended Congupna State School and St Brendan’s Primary School, but because of her ongoing health issues she left school in Year 8 to work on the family farm.
Her teenage years were spent playing tennis and cricket at Congupna. At 16 she met her future husband, Stan Bicknell, at a dance in Tallygaroopna. The couple married in August, 1951, when Mrs Bicknell was 20.
They went on to have 10 children: Robynne, Denise, twins Barbara and Margaret, Phillip, Christopher, Lyndon, Honey and twins Greg and Brendan.
Remarkably, despite Mrs Bicknell’s limited schooling, three of her children are now Shepparton school principals: Barbara O’Brien at Greater Shepparton Secondary College, Denise Howley at Bourchier St Primary School and Brendan Bicknell at Guthrie St Primary School.
After share farming at Congupna and running the family dairy farm in Archer St, Stan and Betty purchased the McIntosh St Milk Bar, where they lived and worked for many years. Eventually they purchased a house in Johnson St Below: Betty celebrated her 90th birthday with her large family. and set up Bicknell’s Freight, which Mrs Bicknell helped build into a successful business.
In retirement, Mrs Bicknell became a champion bowler — finally retiring from the sport at the age of 88 after becoming a twotime champion at Kialla Park Bowls Club.
Brendan Bicknell remembered his mother as a skilled craft worker.
‘‘She made velvet dresses for her girls when they were young — her girls were so well dressed and she took great pride in this,’’ he said.
Mr Bicknell said his mother’s craft skills extended to knitting — she made 56 rugs — and also slippers, coat hangers and handkerchiefs and teddy bears.
Mr Bicknell said in later years his mother’s natural intelligence meant she was able to negotiate email, text messaging, Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat all with ease.
‘‘She did not achieve a high level of education; however, she was highly intelligent. Her mind was as sharp as a tack. She regularly read books, completed crosswords and kept up to speed with the news of the world,’’ Mr Bicknell said.
He described his mother as firm but fair with her 10 children.
‘‘Mum was extremely proud of everyone’s achievements in their chosen field; sport, education, private business or whatever we chose to do, Mum supported us and encouraged us. No-one failed Mum,’’ he said.
He said his mother took great care of her appearance.
‘‘Her elegance was always on display, either having her fingernails freshly painted and manicured or a visit to the hairdresser’s on a Saturday morning,’’ he said.
Mr Bicknell said his mother displayed great resilience in the face of life’s challenges.
‘‘Having lost three sons, Phillip, Christopher and Lyndon, and also her husband, she continued on, typifying her resilience and bravery. She also overcame personal health issues like breast cancer and more recently was super-human-like in recovering from a broken hip around Easter this year,’’ he said.
A celebration of Mrs Bicknell’s life was held on Thursday, August 5, and livestreamed via Merritt Funeral Services’ Facebook page.
Mrs Bicknell leaves seven children, 17 grandchildren, 15 greatgrandchildren and one great-greatgrandson.