On Friday, January 28, 2022, Sally Margaret Alexander, wife of Boyce, mother of Peter and Michael, passed away at the age of 82.
Sally Margaret Robinson was born in Sri Lanka on March 15, 1939, to British parents Christine and William Robinson.
Sally’s parents both served in the military and sadly William was an early casualty of World War II.
Christine later married Colonel Len Moffatt, a Royal engineer.
Following the end of the war, when Sally was 10, with her sister Joan, the family left Sri Lanka with the intention to settle in Canada.
Len and Christine Moffatt’s plans were to stop over in Australia enroute.
Len had in his possession a letter of introduction to the Australian Prime Minister Ben Chifley, and he was interested in inspecting the Snowy Mountain Scheme – Australia’s largest hydro-electric scheme, which diverts the waters of the Snowy River and provides electric power and water for the Murray and Murrumbidgee Rivers.
However, circumstances changed as they sailed through the heads at Sydney when Len suffered a severe heart attack, after which he was confined to a nursing home for some time.
He recovered, but ongoing health issues altered the family’s plans and they remained in Australia.
The family lived at a hotel at Cremorne Point throughout Mr Moffatt’s convalescence and after Mr Moffatt recuperated, he was employed by Thiess Brothers in Maitland.
The family first settled around Sydney for a few years and later moved to Narrabri for Len to take up a position with Griffco international machinery dealers in Doyle Street, now the site of BNB Engineering.
When Christine, who had served in the Women’s Army in Ceylon, accepted a job at the Narrabri District hospital managing the domestic services, the family settled down to rural life.
One day, Sally, then 14, was sitting in Collins Park and met a dashing young man – Boyce Alexander.
Sally had ridden over to the cricket game with a friend on their bikes when Boyce spotted Sally.
In her own words, the rest is history.
Boyce was a Narrabri local, the son of Ernest and Laura (nee Hine) Alexander, and the youngest of eight, four boys and four girls.
The couple celebrated their wedding on September 15, 1956, at the Church of England in Narrabri when they were 17 and 18 years of age.
The service was officiated by Anglican priest Rev Harold Mills and the reception was held at the Catholic Hall in Bowen Street, only the second reception to be held there.
A devoted wife, Sally stood alongside Boyce as his best friend and partner.
Together they carved out a full, rich life marked by hard work, loyalty and respect.
For more than 65 years, Sally and Boyce were a formidable team.
“Nothing ventured nothing gained,” was Sally’s motto. And she lived this all her life.
Boyce recalls an incident in 1958 when travellers from Queensland collided with a train at the railway crossing on Maitland Street while travelling through Narrabri.
While they recovered in hospital, Sally visited them regularly with food, sorted out their laundry, and gave them money.
For many years, these people sent the family Christmas cards – such was the impact her kindness had on them.
Sally was extremely thorough, and everything she set her hand to was completed perfectly.
Boyce recalls how she painted and wallpapered rooms in their Hogan Street home, and handmade curtains for every home they have lived in.
Sally dearly loved her sons Peter, born in 1959, and Michael, born in 1961.
As young teenagers, the boys owned a motorcycle, but were often disappointed when their father was too busy to take them to biking tracks out of town.
After much pestering, Sally would take the boys out, but only if they loaded the bike onto the trailer first.
Sally would sit in the old HR Holden and knit for hours while the boys had their fun on the tracks.
Never once did she hurry them up.
She hated motorbikes, but she was big hearted and graceful in taking them on these, and on many other trips and adventures.
One of Peter’s and Michael’s favourite memories growing up was watching their parents dancing most nights throughout their childhood, with Boyce serenading Sally.
Sally was the love of Boyce’s life.
Boyce would sing to Sally every night throughout their long marriage, even during her final days at the hospital.
Because, as he used to tell his granddaughters, “Singing is good for you”.
Kind, generous, and sensitive to people’s needs, Sally always seemed to know when others were in need.
She was a whizz in the kitchen – her family was generously fed, and Sally would pack picnics with a thermos of tea and take it out to the paddock for Boyce when he was harvesting or baling hay.
She would turn up out of the blue with her car loaded with groceries and treats for her grandchildren.
Sally would bake endless batches of melting moments, stewed fruit, homemade jam and chutneys, dehydrated her own sundried tomatoes, and made dried fruit – all lovingly sent into town to be packed into grandchildren’s lunchboxes.
To this day, her great-grandchildren are very intrigued by the concept of heavenly hash – a salad that involves marshmallows.
But Sally wasn’t only busy in the home.
She wasn’t afraid to drive the truck, pick the pumpkins, or pluck the chickens (much to the distress of her small workforce of granddaughters).
Sally throughout her life demonstrated a strong, capable and steadfast spirit that will remain in her granddaughters’ memories forever.
Sally became an Australian citizen in 1989 and she was a tireless advocate for the district.
She loved Narrabri and was committed to serving her community wherever she could and did this through numerous volunteer roles.
What Sally did at home was reflected in what she did in the community.
She simply rolled up her sleeves and got on with it.
For more than 30 years Sally headed the Narrabri Hospital Auxiliary.
She served as a Pink Lady volunteer at the hospital bringing joy to the patients as she made her rounds.
Sally was instrumental in the establishment of the local Meals on Wheels service.
Not intimidated by politicians, Sally used every opportunity to advocate for her local community and especially the need for a new hospital in Narrabri.
She fought determinably for the new hospital, rallying community support and lobbying with local government and was committed to supporting the rural health care sector and ensuring their services remained available for residents of the shire.
Sally was tenacious, relentless, driven, and motivated by integrity.
Sally was presented with a NSW United Hospital Auxiliaries Life Membership Award In 2015.
An active member of the local Anglican Church community, Sally’s faith was central to her life and purpose.
Sally became the quintessential grandmother to her four granddaughters – Connie, Nikki, Annie and Samara.
When the girls were little, Sally purchased an overlocker sewing machine and would turn up at Peter’s home regularly with a new outfit for each girl.
The four girls would take a trip to town with Sally looking like five little grandmas.
A lady in every way, Sally was poised, dignified, and cultured.
Her granddaughters would later fondly draw parallels between her and the beloved television character Hyacinth Bouquet (Mrs Bucket).
It has recently come to light that Sally had been writing down memories of her time in Sri Lanka.
She describes holidays at a family friend’s tea plantation, elephants walking through the fields, and glorious parties that she and her sister Joan weren’t allowed to attend (but they still managed to watch).
Sally would regale her granddaughters with exotic tales of her childhood.
No matter how many times they asked, she was more than happy to bring out old photos and memorabilia and speak again about her time in old Ceylon.
Sally is survived by her husband Boyce, sons Peter and Michael, her four granddaughters and 13 great-grandchildren.
It has been said that the true measure of a life is not in its duration, but in its donation, and if this quotation is appropriate for anyone, it most certainly is for Sally Margaret Alexander.
With a deep abiding faith, an unshakable devotion to her family, and a tireless commitment to her community, Sally gave selflessly to everyone.To order photos from this page click here