Halvene Therese Kessey

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Halvene Therese Kessey 1934-2005

Halvene Therese Kessey was born on 6 February 1934 at Bourke. Her name was created by merging her parents first names, Halvar Roy Kessey and Ena Ruby Murphy.

During Halvene's early years  the family lived in Hope Street, next door to her father's plasterworks business. They moved to 13 Sturt Street following the death of her grandparents.

Halvene was a keen netball player at school. After leaving school, she worked in the office at Hales' department store until she was married. Her husband, Reginald Bruce Fleming, had come to Bourke three years earlier as an employee of the Bank of NSW.

Halvene and Bruce were married on 1 March 1955 at Bourke during the '55 flood. Since all roads were cut by floodwaters, they had to depart by air for their honeymoon in Sydney. Soon after they returned to Bourke, Bruce was posted by the Bank to to Windsor. It was a lonely time for Halvene, who was used to knowing everyone in her community. After a few months, she and Bruce decided to return to Bourke to live, a move that required Bruce to resign from his Bank position.

Their first child, James Michael, was born in Bourke on 15 December 1955 and was followed 18 months later by Shae Therese. In the early years of marriage, the family lived in Oxley Street and Halvene worked part-time at nearby Kara's cafe. Bruce worked for a time as an insurance agent and later for Oxley Motors.

Soon after Peta Patricia was born on 11 December 1960, Halvene and Bruce started to design a house that they planned to build on a vacant block of land in Mertin Street. They sold the Oxley Street house and moved back to Halvene's parent's house at 13 Sturt Street for a short period while the new house was built. This took longer than anticipated: over a year.

A few years after moving into the lovely new house at 14 Mertin Street, Halvene gave birth to her fourth child: Patrick Bruce. By this time, her husband was running the Bourke fuel depot for Ampol and had expanded the business to encompass a mail run and wool-carting. The family prospered with the children doing well at school and the whole family getting involved in leisure pursuits such as pony club and water-skiing.

As the children finished high school, they moved to Bathurst and Sydney to pursue higher education before finding jobs and settling in Sydney. In 1974, Bruce and Halvene decided to leave Bourke in order to be closer to their children. Bruce's new employer (Tancred's abbatoir) cooperated by transferring him to its Corrimal office in the Illawarra district. The family bought a house and settled at Figtree. This location had the advantage of being close to Halvene's sister Carmel and brother Jim as well as being close to Sydney. Soon afterwards, Halvene's parents also moved into the area. The family had broken away from Bourke after an association that dated back about 120 years (Halvene's GG-Grandparents, James and Frances Reed, moved to Bourke from Sydney in 1862).

Halvene and Bruce's son Patrick married Lisa Davis on 10 October 1992 and they now have three grandchildren: Amber, Ruby and Jed.

pmumdadb.jpg (11513 bytes)Halvene& Bruce (1997)

Halvene and Bruce moved to Bathurst in the mid 1990s.

Halvene suffered a stroke in April 2004 but recovered quite well. Unfortunately she was not able to recover from another stroke in October 2005. She died on 6 October 2005 and is buried in Bathurst cemetery.

The rose still grows beyond the wall.

Obituary: Halvene Therese Fleming (nee Kessey), 1934-2005

The Late Halvene Therese Fleming, (nee Kessey), passed away on 6th October 2005 at Bathurst Base Hospital aged 71 years.

 Born on 6 February 1934 at Bourke, Halvene was the daughter of former Bourke citizens, the late Halvar and Ena Kessey. On her mother’s side, she was the third generation to be born in Bourke where she lived for her first 46 years.

Halvene was educated to the Intermediate Certificate level by the Sisters of Mercy at St Ignatius Convent School. After leaving school, she joined the office staff of Hales and Co where she worked until her marriage to Bruce Fleming on 1 March 1955.

 Halvene was a keen participant in the life of the town, gaining particular enjoyment through sport such as basketball and through her attendance at local dances and balls. Early in her married life she was an enthusiastic participant at the commencement of the Bourke Ladies Bowling Club. Later Halvene loved her games of golf with the Bourke lady golfers.

 Halvene and Bruce raised a family of four in Bourke. Halvene supported her family and the community through her involvement in school activities such as the P & C Association, St Ignatius School librarianship, fetes, working bees and the tuck shop. In addition she enjoyed many hours assisting at Pony Club functions and keenly encouraged her daughters in their equestrian pursuits.

 Halvene shared in Bruce’s participation in local service clubs such as Apex, Rotary and the Bourke Golf Club.

Since 1980 Halvene has lived in Figtree and Bathurst, where she continued to indulge her passion for gardening. From Figtree, Halvene and Bruce attended Open Garden Festivals from the Southern Highlands to the Illawarra and Blue Mountains.

 Halvene derived great pleasure from ongoing contact with numerous old Bourke friends and close ties with her large extended family. In recent years she relished the role of Nan to her three grandchildren, Amber, Ruby and Jed.

 Halvene and Bruce celebrated their Golden Wedding Anniversary in March this year at Bathurst, with a lovely dinner and party for their many friends and family members. It was a memorable and joyous occasion for all.

 A large group of family and friends celebrated Halvene’s life at a requiem mass held at the cathedral of St Michael and St John, Bathurst on 10 October 2005. She is buried at Bathurst cemetery.

 Halvene is survived by her husband Bruce, children Jim, Shae, Peta and Patrick, daughter-in-law Lisa, her beloved grandchildren Amber, Ruby and Jed, much loved brother Jim Kessey and sisters Carmel Hull and Penny Kessey.

Eulogy: Halvene Therese Kessey

by Jim Fleming

·        Mum was born in Bourke in 1934. Her personality was shaped by her experience of being part of a large and vibrant extended family and by participating in a thriving small community.

·        Mum had deep roots in Bourke. Her mother, Ena Ruby Murphy, was descended from three families of long-standing in the town. The Reeds, the Bowens and the Murphys had all been established in the town for more than 50 years by the time Mum was born. She was the fifth consecutive generation to live in the town so she had lots of relatives there.

·        Mum’s mother, Ena, along with her brother Jack and sister Leila was raised from the age of 4 by her grandmother, Ma Bowen, after her mother died. Ma was by then a widow with a large brood of children and not much money. But the family pulled together to get through; everything was shared, everyone contributed. Ena was very close to her siblings and her Bowen uncles and aunts for the remainder of her life and this family-consciousness was passed to her children, including Mum.

·        Mum’s father, Halvar Roy Kessey, moved to Bourke with his parents and siblings in 1918. The Kessey family originated in the Bathurst area, where Grandfather Kessey had pubs at Brewongle and later at Mount David.

·        Both the Bowens and the Murphys also came to Bourke from the Bathurst area, so it is fitting that the family has returned to this area in recent years.

·        Halvar and Ena met at school in Bourke and were married soon after Ma Bowen died in 1927.

·        Ena combined the names of Halvar and Ena in naming her eldest daughter Halvene. I might add that she had invented the name several years before they were married, so she certainly planned ahead!

·        For the first 10 years of Mum’s life the family lived in Hope Street Bourke. Some of the first photographs of Mum show her at age 3 or 4 playing in a slightly overgrown garden at Hope Street with large flax plants towering over her. She was at home playing in that garden, as she was in many other gardens that she created over the years. This was a passion that she shared with her brother Jim and her sisters Carmel and Penny.

·        She created a great garden at Mertin Street Bourke with loads of luscious peaches, grapes and passion fruit. The main flowers in that garden were roses and she was, on more than one occasion, forced to shoo stray cattle and horses that found them very tasty. Cattle in gardens continue to plague her sister Penny to this day!

·        Mum subsequently created very good and productive gardens at her other homes at Branch Avenue Figtree and Opperman Way in Bathurst. She also assisted others in establishing their gardens with advice, cuttings and physical work, including the creation of a particularly special meandering path at Locksley.

·        After grandfather Kessey died, Mum’s family moved into the Sturt Street house that he had built in Bourke. That house was home to a lot of us as Nan and Pop welcomed many of the extended family and friends at various times over many years. They would come to stay for holidays; or to stay for a few months or even longer. Mum cemented firm ties with her many cousins in this way and many of them and their children are here today.

·        Mum loved school and was a keen participant in sport, particularly basketball (now netball). She made good friends including John Wheelhouse, Les Hull, Cath Holland, Ruth and Rona Hanns.

·        She attended the Bourke Picnic Races Ball in 1952 in the company of Cath, Ruth and Rona. That night the girls made friends and danced with Bill Darley and his mate, Bruce Fleming. Dad recalls that on the night that he met Mum, she was wearing the dress that she had worn for a wedding earlier that year. It was a lovely pale blue – a colour that always suited her.

·        Mum was an excellent dancer and she and Dad never missed any of the many dances and Balls held in Bourke in those days. When we were kids she was very involved in planning and organizing the annual Apex Ball when Dad was in Apex. One of those Balls was where she co-opted Penny to introduce the latest dance craze from Sydney: the Washington Stomp. And we kids learned it too and danced it in the Sturt Street family room that we called the “arcade”.

·        Dad was invited to share some Christmas cheer at the Sturt Street house in December 1952. He arrived just as Pop and Uncle Jack contrived to drop a huge block of ice onto Uncle Jack’s foot, breaking several bones. Such was the spirit in the family that this incident caused much amusement at the time and Pop dined out on it for years to come.

·        The story passed into family folklore, as did a later incident that involved Dad, Patrick’s skateboard and a broken ankle. Mum dined out on that one for years, particularly the bit about her straightening out the broken ankle before the ambulance arrived.

·        Suffice it to say that Mum and Dad have spent a further 52 Christmases together since that first one in 1952. We will all miss Mum greatly this Christmas especially and for years to come.

·        That season has always been the highlight of the year for the family; a time when everyone gets together. Mum always greatly enjoyed the present buying, the wrapping, the stacking of huge piles of presents around the tree and, of course, the opening! And she was hard to keep up with during any Christmas shopping expedition.

·        After she and Dad were married, Mum participated in the community in a variety of ways. She sang in the church choir, she worked in the school tuck shop, she did a great job of running the school library, she organized regular working bees to clean the convent, she played bowls and golf. Peta recalls that Mum always won the broom-throwing contest at town picnics! I recall her winning a handbag-throwing competition at one of them too!

·        Later, when we kids got a bit older she was a stalwart at Pony Club events and travelled around all of the country shows while Shae and Peta participated in the equestrian events. And she spent hours on the riverbank during water-skiing fun.

·        She always welcomed friends into our home and treated them as family. She maintained many of those friendships over many decades despite the fact that she or they moved away to different towns. Many of those friends are here today.

·        Like all of the Bowen and Kessey clan members, Mum was a champion yarner. She had no trouble participating in two conversations at once and could keep track of a couple of others! Shae and Shauna regularly reminisce about sitting under the table in the arcade at Sturt Street trying to listen to all of the conversations – and Mum was usually in there with gusto.

·        One of her greatest loves was a sing along. She knew the words and tunes to lots of songs. The Kessey sisters were great harmonisers too. I thought I’d heard all of her songs over 40-odd years but she surprised a few of us a couple of years ago when she unveiled “Salome”. It has now become a sing along standard, but is best performed with the aid of a couple of saucepan lids!

·        She was a very supportive wife and mother for over 50 years. She supported Dad in his pursuits, be they cricket, refereeing the Rugby League in Group 15, golf, Apex, Rotary.

·        She supported the kids in a myriad of ways, some of which I have already referred to. She was great at hounding us to learn our times tables and our spelling; she made a great Aladdin costume that won me first prize in the fancy dress competition – complete with Aunty Jo’s oriental lamp; she made countless school uniforms even though she hated doing it.

·        She would also occasionally provide a piece of homespun advice. For example, when the girls objected to over-vigorous hair brushing she would say with finality, “Pride must suffer” – a direct quote from her own mother!

·        Mum had a number of cooking specialties that were especially appreciated: a champion pikelet maker; curry-maker extraordinaire – especially when the main curry-eater was returning home from boarding school; she made a mean lemon meringue pie and a legendary trifle.

·        She was the best horse-groomer, tail-plaiter and hoof-painter.

·        Not to mention excellent cheering abilities. She watched Peta playing softball once, which is very vocal and noisy. She was the loudest at yelling “Way to go!” She got a great kick out of it and has been rocking it in at every opportunity ever since.

·        Mum was always an avid reader and sometimes bragged that, as a kid, she would have all her Christmas books read by New Year. In later years she was also a crossword fanatic.

·        Most of all she was a devoted, loyal and loving family person, friend, wife, mother and grandmother. Nothing gave her greater pleasure than being amongst family and friends, sharing a yarn and a sing along. It was great that she was able to enjoy everyone’s company at the celebration of her 50th wedding anniversary earlier this year. And what a great night that was.

·        We will all miss her terribly. Life wont be the same without her smiling face.