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A tribute to...

Rose Beecroft

Published: Wed 10th Jul 2019

"She was just an incredibly strong and courageous woman who was humble and proud of her family and was genuinely happy to be self-sacrificing and giving in every situation."

- John Beecroft

 

PETITE, polite, tough, attractive and dedicated to her family.

These are just a few of the words used to describe Rose Beecroft (nee Le Pinez), who died on June 14, 2019 at the age of 91.

For Rose, life began in Melbourne in 1927, the same year Edmond Hogan took over as the Premier of Victoria from John Allan, Parliament House was opened in Canberra by the Duke of York and Melbourne gangster Squizzy Taylor was killed in a shoot-out with Sydney gangsters in Carlton.

The youngest of six children in a blended family - and the only natural child of the second marriage for her parents Albert and Rose, Rose's childhood years were spent living in Victoria during the Great Depression.

Her family lived in Collingwood at the time she was born, but they were forced to escape from the city to find work during the Depression, landing in Berry's Creek, Gippsland where her father worked on a farm.

In the early years in Collingwood, Rose suffered from polio and required an iron lung to help her through it. She was also forced to wear calipers to help strengthen her legs.

By the time they moved to the country her body had strengthened and there are pictures of her and another two school friends riding a horse to school when she was about 8 or 9.

As she grew up, Rose dreamed of being a hairdresser.

The times were against her though. She instead left school in Year 8, when she was 14, and took a job working as an accounts clerk at the local Moran & Cato Grocery Store. At the time Moran & Cato were one of the biggest grocery chains in Australia.

Rose told her son, John, stories about being a teenager growing up in Melbourne during World War II when the American soldiers in their uniforms would come to town on leave. He says that period left quite an impression on his Mum and she seemed to "have a pretty good time".

Rose and Wally.
Rose and Wally.

Rose's family was living in Collingwood when Rose met a "cheeky young man" who stole her bicycle to grab her attention. His name was Wally, and it obviously worked, as in 1948 the couple were wed.

Wally lived in Park St, Collingwood, across the road from Lou and Ron Richards. Wally played amateur footy with the Richards brothers in his early teens. While he stopped playing, the Richards boys went on to play for Collingwood, with Lou claiming fame as one of the club's best rovers and the captain of the 1953 premiership team. The friendship was strong with Ron being Wally's best man at his wedding to Rose. Needless to say, Rose and Wally were both big Collingwood fans!

The couple's first child John arrived in 1950 and the family moved to a flat in Hawthorn, one of three in an old Victorian timber house that had been split into three flats. The family had happy years there, meeting great friends Beryl and Arthur from Flat 2. They would spend summer holidays with the couple at Rosebud for years to come.

The arrival of Kate in 1953, Rose and Wally's second child, led the family to move to Richmond Hill. John remembers Rose being particularly proud to be living in the "hill" part of Richmond.

Their third child, Dianne, arrived on Melbourne Cup Day 1957. John recalls his parents telling him that at that time in their lives, they had "two quid" in the bank. Rose went back to work at a milk bar across the road from the children's school and as her children grew her time was spent taking the girls to calisthenics, tap dancing and girl guides and John to cubs. She also helped John as he set about selling newspapers and footy records and collecting beer bottles for cash.

The Beecroft family moved back to Airedale Ave in Hawthorn in 1966, the house where Rose lived for the rest of her life.

For Rose the Hawthorn years were a time of firsts.

She flew overseas to Papua New Guinea with Wally to be there for the birth of her first grandchild Kim. It was her first ever flight.

 

Rose with a number of her children and grandchildren
Rose with a number of her children and grandchildren

In the 70s and 80s Rose and Wally were empty nesters. They started travelling far and wide, a bus trip all over New Zealand, trips to Sydney and the Gold Coast and multiple bus trips to North Queensland and Central Australia with their friends Arthur, Beryl, Charlie and Verna.

She never did make the journey to Europe - although she was an avid reader of stories set there.

In 1977, Rose bought her first car, a light blue Ford Anglia. She had spent the first 50 years of her life with walking as her main mode of transport. It was at this time when she worked at the accounts department for local motoring dealer West Zone Motors. As an interesting aside, growing up Rose's family never owned a car. Her father Albert used to transport the family on a horse and jinker.

Growing up in the inner city, John remembers a time when he took his Mum out each Wednesday night to "every restaurant in Toorak Rd, Chapel St, Bridge Rd, Glenferrie Rd and many others - we just went to the next restaurant in the street". He remembers his Mum started with a very plain taste in food and ended up enjoying a vast array of food styles including sashimi.

He also remembers his Mum as not being known for her cooking - "she was the one who would burn the toast for breakfast" - with the exception of a roast dinner which she had mastered.

"For 20 or 30 years she'd make a roast once a month, and whoever was around from the family would come along and we would eat together," John said.

With her children grown up and grandchildren and great grandchildren to spoil, Rose loved nothing more than to help out with babysitting and staying close to the younger generation of the family.

After 40 years of marriage Rose found herself on her own when Wally passed away from lung cancer in 1988. It was to be a rough year.

Soon after Wally's death Rose was caught up in a car accident on the Monash Freeway, known at the time as the South East Freeway. John says Rose was driving the family Torana when a prime mover "virtually ran over the top of her car and threw her car around in a circle at 80 kph". Miraculously, she walked away with only bruises. In the years after Wally's death Rose took up sport for the first time, joining Balwyn Bowls Club and going on to win mixed doubles, singles and a club championship in the 1990s.

Through the bowls club Rose met Jim who was to become her partner for eight happy years, before he too passed away in 1999.

Rose with her bowling trophies
Rose with her bowling trophies

As she grew older Rose joined Probus, became an avid reader and took on art and craft challenges to keep her mind active. A keen memory of this time for John was his Mum's fondness of a Norfolk Island trip she took with the Probus group and talked about many times over the years.

For her last 10 years Rose was virtually housebound, her main social life being catch ups with her long-time neighbour and friend Helen Polites. And, of course, there was her beloved cat, Josh.

After Wally died, when Rose was in her 60s, she started to have her own medical challenges and found herself in hospital over the years with breast cancer (having a breast and a lymph gland removed), a gall stone the size of a golf ball that led to her gall bladder being removed, a heart attack, stroke, and kidney failure. At the age of 89 she landed in hospital after falling trying to stand on a dining room chair to change a light bulb and hitting her head.

John said her final trip to the hospital came after she was found on the floor of her bathroom having spent 15 hours lying there unable to get up.

"She was hypothermic but had no broken bones or other damage. She had simply become too weak to get up and had been eating less and less and this ultimately led to her decision to leave this world," he said.

"Ultimately, she was just an incredibly strong and courageous woman who was humble and proud of her family and was genuinely happy to be self-sacrificing and giving in every situation," John said.

"She never told you what to do, she just talked to you."

Rose is the last of her generation.

She is survived by her three children John, Kathryn and Dianne, her grandchildren Kim, Nicole, Zeb, Damien, D'Arne and Courtney and her great grandchildren, Dylan, Ella, Will, Brikelle, Ava and Harry.

Her funeral is to be held on Friday, June 21 at 2.30pm at Le Pine Chapel, Camberwell.


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