5 FEBRUARY 1928 – 12 DECEMBER 2022
Shirley Agnes Best was the eldest child of Fred and Ness Best of Carters Rd and then Cranstons Lane from 1932. One of the fifth generation born to the Best family of Dural orchardists. Shirley recalled how, as a young girl, she helped to pick cash crops of peas, beans, tomatoes and passionfruit, which provided an income for the family while the orchard was being established.
Later, when chickens were introduced on the farm, a less than enthusiastic Shirley would be delegated to ‘fox patrol’ until the hens went in at dark. Shirley commenced at Middle Dural Public School in 1933, right in the middle of ‘Best territory’ where her many uncles and aunts worked their orchards and farms along the Old Northern Road ridge. Of course, this meant a walk up THAT hill which became a daily event to catch George Deamon’s Glenorie Bus to high school at Parramatta Domestic Science School, Secretarial College and then to work in the Commonwealth Bank, Parramatta.
The family didn’t own a car until 1944 so if a trip to Parramatta for a doctor’s appointment was required or for the regular Sunday church service, Fred would borrow his mother’s 1928 Nash, garaged at Glenroy at the top of Cranstons Ln. On a Sunday, Shirley’s Aunty Maude would pick up Ness and the children to visit Grandma Hughes and sister Elsie in Whites Lane,
Glenorie. Shirley remembered the laughter, chatting and general hilarity of any Hughes gathering, particularly at Christmas.
Shirley loved her work at the Commonwealth Bank which played perfectly to her strengths of efficiency, perfection and tidiness. Her highly social personality also enjoyed the camaraderie that a large office provided.
Romance blossomed when Shirley and Mervyn Clark met one Sunday afternoon at the house of a mutual friend. Mervyn was employed as one of two pilots flying the Bank’s DC3 aeroplane. Although based in the Sydney office, he appeared at the Parramatta office the very next day in full air force uniform. It worked – and they were married in St John’s Anglican Cathedral in 1952. Shirley and Mervyn had three daughters, Joanne (Hambrett), Elizabeth (Pellinkhof) and Jennifer (Evans), living in a variety of suburbs before returning to the Hills District in 1972 where the girls pursued their love of riding and enjoyed rural living once again. Shirley’s love of cooking, sewing, cake decorating was then extended to quilting with a group of lifelong friends, both old and new. This led to some wonderful overseas trips and has given the children and grandchildren a beautiful collection of handmade pieces.
Mervyn’s sudden and untimely death in 1985 saw Shirley determinedly try maintain the 5 acres at Kenthurst. However, it simply became too much so she bought a home in the newly opened Rowland Village, Galston where she enjoyed 30 years of independent living. During this time, she remarried Norman Butler and they shared a very happy, but sadly too short, marriage together. As well as her numerous hobbies, Shirley lived a full community social life through Galston Methodist Church, View Club and the many gatherings at her children’s homes. Most notable were her 90th birthday at Glenroy Cottage (her childhood home, still in the family) and the Thomas Best Bicentenary celebration in her father’s packing shed.
Although in care for the past three years, Shirley liked nothing better than to be taken for drives around her beloved Hills District. Shirley will be sadly missed by those who knew and loved her.