Vale Bill Hickey 1940 – 2020

May 18th, 2020Vale Bill Hickey 1940 – 2020

MANY people could write the story of William Thomas Hickey...

MANY people could write the story of William Thomas Hickey, known to all as Bill, but perhaps my memories of walking or riding to and from Sacred Heart, East Trentham between 1950-54 go back further than most.

In the last 80 years or so, many others from far and wide got to know the man who has been referred to over the last few days as – gentlemanly, supportive, generous, genuine and, above all, an iconic presence in our district.

Bill passed away in his usual understated way, quietly in his sleep on Friday, 8 May 2020.  With him has gone a huge number of stories, recollections and much history of the district which he loved, served, understood and promoted during his lifetime.

Born to Jack and Edna (née Kennedy) on April 8, 1940, Bill lived all his life at Chanters Lane, East Trentham. He attended school for only eight years, and not particularly successful ones at that according to his own admission, but what he lacked in reading and writing skills he made up for in eloquence of speech, which saw him serve his riding of Trentham/Tylden on Kyneton Shire Council from 1968-1995 where he was acknowledged for his ‘down to earth manner, forthright participation in discussions, common sense, homespun philosophy, logic and sense of humour.’ An entertaining and informative interview of Bill’s school life by Ina Bertrand in 2007 is available in Trentham & District Historical Society archives.

Always a farmer at heart, Bill’s apprenticeship started early and by the time he was six or seven with older brother John was driving a dray, learning the life cycle of potato growing, and caring for his father’s beloved Clydesdales. Milking before and after school was a part of family life and eventually Bill and John took up full-time dairying. It was a sad day when Bill was forced to despatch his herd on November 3, 2016, yet another nail in the coffin of serious farming in his beloved East Trentham.

Retirement didn’t quite sit all that well with Bill, it made him feel “a little useless” but he told me in recent times he missed “growing things” – perhaps he just didn’t have enough time to develop that dream veggie garden he spoke of!  However, one upside of this forced “early” retirement was the time Bill then had to chat – and didn’t he enjoy a chat!

Knowing so many people – oldies, locals, returnees, newcomers and visitors enabled Bill to keep in touch with most things going on, and his ongoing interest and support of the T&DHS among other community activities was invaluable.

Bill Hickey enriched life in our little part of the world and with the constant love and support of Susie Spence they together contributed much to the district. Bill is gone, but not forgotten, Susie in her inimitable way will continue to contribute while she along with many others will mourn a great loss in her life, and our lives.

Words: Elizabeth Toomey/Trentham & District Historical Society

Image by: Richard Ryan

Image: Bill Hickey

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