The late Bill Heath OAM, who passed away aged 96 on Saturday, April 24, will be remembered as a family man who was committed to service to his community.
Mr Heath was held in respect and affection by Narrabri residents across several generations.
He was first and foremost a devoted family man whose community and civic roles, and the responsibilities he willingly took on in those capacities, were always supported by his wife of more than 70 years, Beryl.
Mr Heath’s service to his community was wide ranging and extensive.
He was successful businessman, a former mayor of Narrabri, a 50-year member of Narrabri Rotary and a founding president of the Probus Club among his many roles.
He was awarded an OAM in the 2017 Queen’s Birthday Honours for services to the community.
In addition to a busy working life Bill Heath enjoyed, and was accomplished on stage, as a talented singer and performer in many theatrical productions with the Narrabri Music and Dramatic Society and other groups.
Mr Heath’s OAM award recognised a long and comprehensive history of service to the Narrabri community.
His contribution to the betterment of the town, through his leading role in community organisations, charity work, local government, sport, the arts, clubs and other organisations and a successful business career, spanned more than 70 years.
Mr Heath was energetic, involved and entrepreneurial across many spheres.
His wife Beryl was his long-term support, advisor, business partner and mentor throughout his journey.
“The most important thing in my life was that I married Beryl and have three wonderful children, Neurelle, Martin and Robert and families,” Mr Heath told The Courier on the occasion of his OAM award.
Mr Heath arrived in Narrabri at the end of 1945 and he and Beryl (nee Ryan) were married on March 7, 1949.
After arriving in Narrabri, he originally stayed with his uncle and aunt, Allan and Mary Griffith, operators of the Telegraph Hotel.
“I planned to stay for a few months and after my uncle suggested I learn the ropes, I ended up as manager,” Mr Heath recalled.
That was the start of a business career which expanded into several successful ventures.
Mr Heath operated taxis in Narrabri for four years and progressed into the development of a major regional business supplying fresh fruit and vegetables from Brisbane, Sydney and Newcastle markets to outlets across the North West for 25 years.
He moved into the wholesale fuel business as a supplier of Ampol fuels and concurrently operated a service station.
In between times Mr Heath was closely involved with the physical growth of Narrabri, building the Centreway Arcade and developing extensive rental accommodation, flats and houses, in Narrabri.
Many generations of Narrabri people would have lived at some time in a flat owned by Bill and Beryl Heath.
Mr Heath served as mayor of Narrabri Municipal Council from December 1968 to 1971.
It was an era of growth, challenge and change during his council tenure and among his achievements he successfully fought for funding from the state government to financially support any sporting club affected by flood damage to property or buildings.
The 1971 flood occurred during Mr Heath’s term on council and his role in successfully leading the council and community team charged with the management of the emergency and its aftermath covered a myriad of issues in that difficult time.
A busy life in business, local government and community – he led many clubs and organisations – was interspersed with a deep commitment to the arts.
Mr Heath was a prime mover in one of Narrabri’s major cultural entities, the Musical and Dramatic Society which he resurrected after the war in 1946.
The M and D Society was the vehicle for major stage productions, well received by Narrabri audiences for many years and which provided an outlet for the performance talents of many on stage and behind the scenes.
The late Mr Heath is survived by his wife Beryl, and children Neurelle, Martin and Robert and their families.
Please see funeral arrangements notice in the Tuesday 27 April edition of The Courier.
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