Parkes champion citizen Bernie Crowe OAM passes away at 83

VALE BERNIE CROWE: Parkes community champion Bernie Crowe OAM passed away peacefully on April 4.

VALE BERNIE CROWE: Parkes community champion Bernie Crowe OAM passed away peacefully on April 4.

The late Bernard Crowe OAM, or Bernie as he was more fondly known, has been described by those who knew him as a "truly champion bloke", who had nothing but the community's best interests at heart.

The Parkes community lost one of its greats on April 4, following Bernie's long battle with cancer. He was 83 years old.

The community farewelled Bernie at the Holy Family Catholic Church on Tuesday, April 9.

He was greatly respected in Parkes, a town family and friends say he served over many decades and was a loved friend of many.

"Nobody has done more for their community than Bernie Crowe," close friend Peter Buckley said in Bernie's eulogy.

Bernard Anthony Crowe was born in Cootamundra on March 5, 1936, the sixth child of eight born to John and Nora Crowe.

He completed his schooling at DE La Salle school Cootamundra, leaving at the intermediate level to begin work at John Meagher Son selling shoes.

Bernie accepted a move to the Temora store to manage two departments and in April 1960 he married the love of his life Dawn Mary Kenned, and they remained in Temora for a further two years. During this time he helped start men's basketball and started playing golf in earnest.

He had also developed a love for music, particularly jazz which was to last a lifetime.

In 1962 Bernie and Dawn moved back to Cootamundra, advancing his employment and in 1964 he was offered the managers position at Pollocks Fashion Corner in Yass.

During their nine years in Yass Bernie became very involved in Apex and helped build aged care units that have expanded over the years - being involved in a similar venture in Parkes some 20 years later.

He was awarded life membership of Yass Apex club in 1974.

Bernie stood for and was elected to Yass Council but was only a councillor for a short period as he was offered an assistant manager's position at the Parkes John Meagher Store.

During his time at the store he became manager. Over the years the business had many name changes, from Burns Philp, then JB Youngs to Grace Brothers and later Myer before eventually closing.

When the store closed, he realised a lifelong ambition and opened his own men's wear business which he ran for seven years before retiring.

Bernie was part of the Central West Jazz Club during the 1980s and was very involved in starting the Parkes Jazz Triduum, which attracted thousands of jazz fanatics to town.

Peter said many would remember the amazing jazz concert that was held in the same church they were farewelling Bernie.

He was also at that time part of the committee organising the Parkes Centenary celebrations.

Bernie was president of the Parkes Golf Club and a committee member for some years. Golf was one of his lifelong passions.

Bernie was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) in 2006, much to his embarrassment, for his services to the communities of Temora, Cootamundra, Yass and Parkes. He was also made Citizen of the Year in 1990.

Bernie was largely instrumental in establishing the Parkes Men's Shed.

And one of Bernie's proudest achievements was being part of the committee which established the Southern Cross Village. He was the chairman of the steering committee, established in 1990 and then chairman of the board of management until he became a resident of the village in 2007.

The village now consists of a 62 bed residential aged care facility and 90 independent living units.

Bernie was diagnosed with cancer in October 2014, which began his journey with doctors, hospitals and treatment. He underwent open heart surgery and a bowel operation, but in 2017 he was diagnosed with lung cancer.

"Despite his strong determination he lost the battle [on April 4]," Peter said.

"He loved his family, his five brothers and two sisters, and not being blessed with children, he loved his nieces and nephews as if they were his own children."

Bernie was also a member of the Knights of the Southern Cross for most of his adult life and had great love of his Catholic faith.