Obituary: Gunnedah woman Beryl Mary Richardson

ST Joseph’s Catholic Church was filled for the funeral mass of much-loved parishioner, Beryl Mary Richardson, who died on August 3, three months short of her 92nd birthday.

Born at Gunnedah on November 4, 1926, Beryl was the only child of Alfred Henry Brown and Edna Mary Koefod. Less than a year after her birth, Beryl’s father succumbed to injuries incurred in an accident at Werris Creek, where he was trialling a new motorbike.

Tragedy struck again for the family when 12 months  to the day of his accident, Beryl’s mother died at the age of 23 - the family said she had literally died from a broken heart. Beryl’s maternal grandparents became her legal guardians and she grew up surrounded by a variety of cousins who became her “brothers and sisters”.

During her teenage years, Beryl formed a lifelong friendship with Kath Allison. They shared everything with each other and Beryl was always included in family activities.  Beryl was a proud ex-student of St Xavier’s School and St Mary’s College and after completing her education, she worked in the haberdashery department at McDonagh’s Department Store.

As World War 2 was drawing to a close, Beryl met  a young soldier  at a dance in the Gunnedah Town Hall. Ray Richardson was on leave prior to his discharge from the army - as it turned out, he was the brother of Beryl’s close friend Gwen Richardson (later Gwen Campbell) and they became sisters-in-law. 

The couple married at St Joseph’s Church on October 11, 1947. Their first child Anne was  born in 1954, with the birth of son Paul in 1957 completing their family. Beryl’s life revolved around her family. She helped out on the school tuck shop, was a competent dressmaker and enjoyed knitting and crochet. 

Anne and Paul have fond memories of hiking up Porcupine Hill and Little Porky, finishing with a picnic lunch at the top - and holidays on the Gold Coast, Central Coast, Armidale, Sydney and Newcastle – often with family and friends.

Beryl had a strong Catholic faith and she instilled in her children many of her values. She told people many times how proud she was of them and their achievements.

After completing her education at St Mary’s,  Anne worked for more than 30 years as Careers Adviser with the NSW Education Department, retiring from teaching in 2009, while Paul worked in various aspects of the media, the last 33 years with Channel 7. He is now based in Brisbane.

Beryl also supported her husband Ray as the book-keeper in their business, Richardson and Murray - in Rotary, and his pursuit of rugby league as  a long-serving referee. Ray’s war service saw the couple involved in the RSL, with Beryl a member of the women’s auxiliary and later of the War Widows Guild and Legacy.

They also enjoyed ballroom dancing and coach trips to many parts of Australia including three times to the Melbourne Cup, overseas to New Zealand with friends and Hong Kong with Esso, as well as Australia’s north.

After Ray’s death on April 9, 1998, Beryl found comfort in her faith and the company of friends at lawn bowls, where she served for six years as president of the Gunnedah RSL Women’s Bowling Club. She was also a patron of Gunnedah Services Women’s Bowling Club.

Beryl lived an independent life at her Marion Street home, always supported by neighbours and friends. At the age of 90, she handed in her driver’s licence and after a short stint in hospital last year, she became a resident at Alkira, where she died peacefully surrounded by her family.

Beryl and Ray Richardson lived in Gunnedah all their lives. They were very loyal to their community and extremely proud to call Gunnedah home.

A lady of grace and dignity, Beryl’s devotion to her faith and her love for family and friends was returned ten-fold in her final years.

In the eulogy at Beryl’s final farewell,  daughter Anne remembered a cushion treasured by her mother with the saying: “If Mums were flowers I’d pick you”.

“ … and we did” she said.

“We love you Mum.”

The farewell Mass, conducted by Fr John McHugh, was followed by interment at Gunnedah Memorial Park

The late Beryl Richardson is survived by her daughter Anne Cheetham and son Paul Richardson and their families.

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