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Devoted couple faithful to the very end

Friday, 22nd November, 2013

Tiger and Iris Williams were farewelled together on Wednesday. Tiger and Iris Williams were farewelled together on Wednesday.

By Erica Visser

After 67 years together, Iris Williams was so devoted to husband Tiger that she could not bear to live without him.

The loving couple, who boasted five children, 13 grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren, passed away within days of one another last week.

Tiger, who was born Edward Lewis in June 1924, passed on suddenly at the Broken Hill Hospital on Sunday, November 10.

When the 89-year-old’s family members told Iris, who lived at St Anne’s Nursing Home, the 87-year-old said “she was ready to go” too, and by Thursday she had also gone.

Her family rushed to postpone funeral arrangements so that the beloved pair could be fittingly sent off together.

A private funeral for Tiger and Iris was held at the Fred J Potter and Son chapel on Wednesday.

The funeral director told the BDT that it was one of the first times it had held a joint service which came about through these circumstances in recent years.

Granddaughter Rebecca Hillier said that she believed Iris had “held on” until it was Tiger’s time to go.

“We think she was waiting for him and after that she had decided it was her time,” she said.

Tiger and Iris were well-known throughout the city and made themselves very much a part of the Broken Hill community.

Iris, an avid St Kilda Football Club supporter, was born here and spent years volunteering with the Red Cross and Salvation Army.

Known for her “invisible sewing” skills, she earned some spare cash as a clothing repairer.

She also used her talent at crafts to support the Royal Flying Doctors Service by knitting “Trauma Teddies” for the organisation and worked at the Munitions Factory in Argent Street as a young woman.

After marrying Tiger, she quit work and focussed her efforts on raising children Patricia, Barry, Raymond, Neville and Trudy.

Tiger, “a jack of all trades”, worked as a pipe fitter with the Zinc Corporation for 45 years and served in the Second World War as a nurse in Darwin, where he survived the infamous 1942 Japanese bombing.

He had a tough upbringing in country South Australia as the eldest of 11 children, before later settling in Broken Hill and marrying Iris on December 30, 1946. 

Tiger was known as a sporting enthusiast and was very involved with the Excelsior Sports Club; not only playing cricket and football, but also training other teams.

He was also a member of a local swimming club and the Silver City Cycling Club where he won medals for his bike riding.

But Tiger’s greatest love (apart from Iris) was horse racing and he would place bets on a daily basis.

The keen punter’s family recalled that he “let nothing get in the way of ... having a bet and listening to his racing.”

He also handed out pearls of wisdom to anyone willing to listen.

“One of his sayings was, ‘Don’t bet on anything that can talk’ and ‘look after your bank account and it will look after you,” his family said.

Tiger and Iris’ family have said their goodbyes, but Rebecca said they will remember the way the couple loved one another and their family for the rest of their lives.

Tiger’s mantra was: “If I have 10 cents more than I could ever spend, then I would be a rich man” and his family said in his eulogy that he did leave them rich.

“You may not have been a rich man by your classification in life, but in death you are a rich man,” it read.

“And all of us here are rich, not in money but ... just by having had you in our lives.”

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