Farewell to a Bowraville son, and a true gentleman

Today the Nambucca Valley says goodbye to one of its true gentlemen.

Billy 'Bat' Graham was a born-and-bred Bowraville boy, and was descended from the Ryans - one of the earliest settler families in the area.

His pride for his hometown and dedication to its rugby league club knew no bounds.

He poured his heart and soul into the Bowraville Junior Rugby League Club for three decades, as coach, president, vice president, secretary, and as one of the most important but often overlooked roles - registrar. His indefatigable commitment earned him a life membership.

No job was beneath him; he would be the first on ground to set up the fields on match days, and the last one standing packing everything away. And he'd be the first to raise his hand to go on a sausage run if the barbecue supplies were running low.

He was also a long-time delegate for the club in Group 2 Junior Rugby League. He held the vice presidency of Group 2 for a number of years, and earned himself a life membership with that organisation too.

He was a super gentle man who had a real way with people. And he always found a solution to any problem.

Friend and club colleague Maurie 'Moz' Lonergan said.

"He was well-respected by all - kids and parents alike. And he was hugely respected by the Bowra Junior Rugby League Club."

But Bat was not averse to helping out other footy codes too, often giving his assistance to the Bowraville Goannas Rugby Union Club.

He was also a life member of the Nambucca River Jockey Club, and served as a member of the Urban Committee for years.

In his early years he was employed as a postal worker - a job which eventually took him around the state. Later on he carted meat in Sydney. But Bowraville called him home again in the seventies. And just as well, because it was then he met the love of his life, Denise Donnelly.

He was a devoted husband to Denise, his wife of 42 years, and a cherished father and father-in-law to Tania and Mark, Scott and Melanie, and Brad.

He was a loving 'Poppy' to all three of his grandchildren - Bianca, Ash and Olivia.

"He was an all-round good bloke who would help anyone at the drop of a hat," Moz said.

He was highly respected right throughout the Nambucca Valley. And he will be sorely missed.

His celebration of life was held today at the Bernard Laverty Chapel in Macksville.

All at Guardian News would like to extend their sincerest condolences to Bat's friends and loved ones.

Vale Billy 'Bat' Graham, November 28, 1948 - January 3, 2021.