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Gladys Elizabeth Owen (nee Collins) (1918 - 1991)
Page 1

These pages about Gladys (Betty) are split as follows :

Page 1 : Ancestors, Descendants, General Info plus Bits & Pieces
Page 2 : "The Trip"
Betty Owen

Bankstown Bowling Club Bulletin May - June 1980
Extract about Betty from the article "Our Two Treasurers"

 Click Thumbnail to Enlarge 

Bowl Mag

G. Elizabeth (Betty) King. Hon Treasurer of the Bankstown Women's Bowling Club, was born at Goulburn.

After completing her formal education at Moss Vale, she moved to Sydney and joined the staff at Sydney Hospital.

In 1939 she married Ted Owen and resided at Ashfield. [Incorrect. They actually married in 1941] Betty with husband Ted , son John and daughter Denise, moved to her present home at Condell Park in 1952.

Her interest in bowling began when Ted joined Bankstown Bowling Club. Consequently she became a foundation member of Bankstown Women's Bowling Club. Being an assessor with the local H.C.F. Office, she was unable to play very much on Tuesdays but enjoyed the mixed bowls when they were held once a month.

After becoming a widow in 1972 she accepted nomination and was elected as Hon. Treasurer in 1973, which position she still holds.
In 1978 she married Jack King, another well-known member of the men's club.

Eulogy to Betty

The following eulogy was delivered by Brother Joseph Smith (a friend of Denise's) at Central Bankstown Catholic Church at Betty's funeral service

I never had the opportunity to meet Mrs King while she was alive but over the past three years I've heard a great deal about her since I've known her daughter Denise. Denise has spoken with many members of the family and other friends over the last few days and it's on the basis of those talks that I'm going to share just a few thoughts and memories here to-day.

She was born Gladys Elizabeth Collins at Goulburn in 1918, her parents being D'arcy and Florist Collins. She was born at home just like her elder brother Leslie and her sister Dot who are here today, and her younger brother Norman who in fact, predeceased her.

When she was about 10 or 11 the family moved to the Moss Vale area and lived for about three years at the house known as the Briars. That house continues to be quite a famous landmark in the area, and I've been told that even as recently as earlier this year, it was one of her happiest memories and there were a couple of occasions when she talked at length to her family about that house. Of her younger days, her younger sister Dot recalls that Gladys was a good and keen student but that she never got to high school due to combination of her poor eyesight and to the fact that there just wasn't a lot of money to go around. However she stayed on at the Moss Vale Public School for a few years helping the teacher until she set off looking for work. Dot also recalls with laughter, Gladys going to work at the Hotel Ranelagh in Robertson at the age of about 14 and this little girl getting absolutely lost in this huge rambling building!

Eventually, the young Gladys moved up to Sydney and was thrilled to get a position working as a domestic at the Sydney Hospital. She has spoken a lot over recent years to Denise and Sonia about this time, and of how happy she was during this time in her life, being in the "big city". Apparently she used to relieve the girl who looked after the needs of the Matron, and she was always very proud of this fact.

She was eventually to meet a dashing young man called Ted Owen and this was the beginning of her very happy association with all the Owen family. (It was also the time when she began to become known as Betty). She particularly loved Nanna Owen; and following her marriage to Ted in 1941 (they were married in St Benedict's Church in Broadway) she was able to develop a special friendship with Ted's sister Sylvia - Ted and Betty shared a premises with Sylvie and Les at Ashfield and only moved from there when they moved into the house that they built at Condell Park in 1952. And, of course, it is that home which she lived in right up until the time when she entered hospital in May this year.

Of course by now, John and Denise had come along. They recall that their mum was always the hardest of workers - she helped Ted in his various endeavours - with his green grocerying and later with the contract drycleaning job. And she helped to establish the home at Condell Park. One of the things which Betty loved most was her garden and it is this that John recalls as one of the greatest tributes to her. He says she could put a broomstick in the ground and make it grow! John particularly treasures this memory of his mum, as someone who could generate life in a garden, and nurture it through all the seasons. No-one who has ever seen any of the beautiful orchids which she tended would ever doubt that. Many of them are blooming in the garden at home at this time, and she had a spray of them at the hospital with her when she died.

Denise speaks with passion of how her mother encouraged her in her music. Her mother indeed had a lovely singing voice in her younger days and there was always a lot of singing together. Both John and Denise, and Dot, have recently also commented on her incredible organisation - all three of them still chant to this day - "a place for everything, and everything in it's (sic) place!"

About thirty years ago - thirty three to be exact - new neighbours moved in at Number 9 Ethel Street and this brought about the beginning of a most wonderful friendship with her friend Al O'Connor. Aunty Al, as she is known through the family, was to be a staunch friend - and over these thirty years they have cared for each other. And she'll be deeply missed coming through the little gate in the fence to visit for a cuppa.

Betty was a foundation member of the Bankstown Women's Bowling Club - foundation treasurer in fact - [She was actually the second or third Treasurer of the club. This detail still has to be determined.] and bowls was an activity which she and Ted enjoyed together. Apparently the bowls took over sometime after the Friday night tennis parties gave out. And even though Denise was little at the time, she still remembers how much she (Denise) loved Friday nights because her mum always baked one of her fabulous custard tarts - which according to everyone there were the best ever!

Betty was to have three grandchildren - Michael is unable to be here today, but he's here in spirit - and Sonia and Donna were proud to be able to bring the gifts to the altar for Nanna, along with Ellen her very special daughter in law, in her special Mass today.

In August of 1972, Betty lost Ted following his battle with cancer. She had nursed him at home and following this very sad and difficult time she got on with the business of picking up the threads of her life alone since, of course, the kids had both left home and had in fact, moved away - John to the northern parts of NSW and Denise to Perth in Western Australia. Dot tells us of one of the highlights of this period when she and Gladys and two other friends went on a fabulous Safari Tour to Darwin through the Red Centre. They went camping and it was a trip which none of them ever stopped talking about for a very long time. [See link to "The Trip" on Page 2 at the top of this page]

Everyone was delighted when in 1978 Betty announced that she was going to be married again - to a man I'm told was the essence of the word - "gentle man". Jack King and Betty were to have thirteen years of married life. Jack too had lost his wife Ruby, to cancer - indeed, Ted and Betty and Jack and Ruby had all known one another at the Bowling Club and been the best of close friends. Everyone wished them every happiness when Jack closed up his house and he moved down to the Ethel Street house - and brought his beautiful orchids with him too. Many people have commented on the lovely and loving companionship they shared for most of their thirteen years. Indeed, this was tinged with sadness with Betty's severe episode of illness and long hospitalisation five years ago - and with Jack's increasing frailty and ill health. Betty nursed him at home for a very long time until the time came when her act of love included acknowledging that she needed more help than could be given at home. Even during the greater part of 1990 when her dear Jack was living at the Yagoona Nursing Home, she visited almost daily, carefully making sure she took in grapefruits from his tree at home which she knew he enjoyed. As everyone here would realise it's only nine months since many of those here today gathered in the church across the road to help Betty to farewell her Jack.

And now this short nine months later, we're here to farewell her. Her friends and family know well her loyalty and her generosity to others in time of need. They will miss her greatly, - the speed at which she moved, the devotion to the task at hand and to whatever service she was carrying out, indeed her "tenseness" at times for which she was very often chided, and her laughter, her very special gift of laughter which I'm told was a special trademark. When she was happy, it always spilled over into laughter.

Betty's illness since May of this year has been the source of great sorrow for those who love her, and they take great comfort that the agitation and the distress of her illness has been healed through her very sudden and unexpected death last Saturday. There was the usual mix of joy and sorrow, laughter and tears in her seventy two years. But she took great comfort from her faith and we can take comfort that finally, she is at peace with her God.

Poem to Betty from Lynley Brennan

The following poem was written by Lynley Brennan, Denise's partner, as a special tribute to Betty and was read by Lynley at Betty's funeral
For Betty      15.9.91

She died in Spring.
That strange unravelling of the soul's purpose,
the life's memories,
began in Autumn
and now, completed,
before the heat of summer
or the beginning of a new year.
She died when the orchids bloomed.
Did she choose that moment,
seeing them
and knowing that she would never,
assiduous gardener that she was,
repot again?
Never see the lizard under the gum tree
basking in the sun again.
Nor hear the magpies.
Nor see her azaleas in riotous bloom.
She ate lemons from her tree
in that little square space,
her last captivity,
but missed the blossoming.
Maybe at the moment
of choice
she decided it was all finished.
Debts honoured, guilts bourne,
having endured heroically
to the end,
what was left but the
At last she blooms unfettered,
beyond the seasons
of time and death.

  Lynley Sig

Click to Enlarge Image

8 March 1994

A couple of years after Betty died, her son, John, received a letter from Tony Webber in England. Tony was a child living with his parents in a garage on the block next door (5 Ethel St) when Ted, Betty and the family moved into Condell Park. John replied to him to inform him Betty had died and this is the letter he sent in reply.


Address Withheld
Phone Withheld
8 March 1994

Dear John

Thank(s) for your recent letter which we read with very mixed feelings - sorrow that your mother had passed away and thanks that you had taken the trouble to write and tell us. We often spoke of her and wondered what had happened, as we had not heard from her for the past two Christmases.

You tell us that she was thrilled to meet up with us when I re-visited Ethel Street back in 1989. Well, I have to say that she gave me the surprise of my life on that 17 April. I still tell the remarkable story of that unlikely meeting because it sends a shiver down my spine even now when I think of it. As we drove down Ethel Street in disbelief that this place I remembered as bush had been transformed into an attractive suburban street, your Mum was working in her garden.
At Jean's suggestion, I approached her and told her that I used to live in the street, and could she help me locate our old house. That's all I said. I was amazed where she answered my question with "Is your name Webber?"  After 36 years she was able to name me!  Understandably, she thought I was my Father (who died in 1979) and asked about his children but I was simply gobsmacked. She was the only resident in the street when we left in 1953, and was still there when we returned in 1989 ! [ Tony is incorrect in his memory of this. There were five other families in the street when the Owen family moved in on 24 December, 1952 ]

She made us feel very welcome and insisted that (we) come indoors and have tea with her and Jack. We had a wonderful time with them both.
That same day we went to my old school, Homebush Boy's High and visited a classmate of mine at Georges's Hall School. I had not been in touch with him until I called him just before we left the UK, so you can imagine the importance of that day to me. Your Mum certainly gave me an experience I will never forget.

To my shame, I do not remember either you, John, or your sister Denise. Jean, who has forgotten nothing that has happened in her life, finds it hard to believe, but I have very little memory of early days, relying on my Mum to fill in the blanks. I told Jean that Homebush Boy's High was a stone building and it was redbrick. When Jean asked if I remembered the very large, ancient Morton Bay Fig tree in the playground, I had to admit No.

We had a wonderful holiday in Australia and were able to visit relatives in Bradbury who went out after we returnedto (sic) England. We now have regular contact with them and it allows us to follow the progress of your great country....we have plans to return to see more of Oz one day.

Thank you once again for your letter. Please give my regards to Denise.

(Signed) Tony and Jean

Updated : 8 Aug 2015