Organist, tractor driver, business owner and belle of many balls – there was little Henty’s Mary Dale, with her signature red lipstick, couldn’t do, or wouldn’t do, for the town she loved.
The retailer, who died at the age of 83 after two bouts of cancer, was remembered by nearly half of Henty when about 450 mourners attended her funeral last Thursday.
Outside St Barnabas Anglican Church a guard of honour formed, made up of staff from the supermarket, hardware and electrical stores Mrs Dale helped oversee.
After moving to the town in 1959, Mrs Dale became a driving force behind many events, including Henty’s 1986 centenary.
The then Mary Fisher met Les Dale on a Kiewa Young Farmers’ bus trip, when she spotted a “good looking young man” playing the accordion.
They were engaged on July 14, in 1958 and wed on January 24, 1959.
An accomplished dressmaker and baker, Mrs Dale made her wedding dress, bridesmaids’ dresses and a three-tiered wedding cake for the day.
Their son Phillip Dale and grandson Grant Morey read extracts of a life story written by Mrs Dale as a eulogy, wherein she described her and Les as “two parts of a whole”.
Mrs Dale was born at Chiltern in 1934 and grew up at Browns Plains, between Rutherglen and Barnawartha, where she mustered sheep and drove tractors.
A striking woman, she won Belle of The Ball competitions throughout the region, becoming Belle of the Belles in 1956 at Chiltern and Miss CWA at Brocklesby.
The Dales collaborated for 59 years, joking Mrs Dale’s only reward was the “opportunity to sleep with the boss”.
While working full-time, Mrs Dale also managed to raise three children and be a driving force in the community, all while always ensuring there were fresh flowers on the dinner table.
Mrs Dale lived to see her son Ken ordained as an Anglican deacon on January 25 and a new great-grandchild born on Valentine’s Day.
She died on February 18 and is survived by her husband, children Narelle, Ken, Phillip and his wife Erin Dale; grandchildren Shane, Jason and Grant Morey and Thomas Dale and eight great-grandchildren.