WHERE WILL THE WIDOWS GO?
By LEIGH PRITCHARD
SITTING in an old room, a group of women chat about old times ? good and bad.
After 48 years, the Grafton branch of the Association of Civilian Widows met for the last time yesterday in Grafton.
Civilian Widows secretary Nancy Gilmore said they were forced to close because the head office in Sydney only had one member.
President Margaret Michael said with 46 financial members, Grafton was one of the strongest branches.
"We started with 42 members and in 1998 we had 145 members," Mrs Michael said.
Mrs Gilmore said she remembered when widows and their children were treated like second class citizens.
"That's what we stand for ? welfare for widows, especially the children," she said.
In 1958, when Civilian Widows was formed by Apex Clubs, Mrs Gilmore said the children of civilian widows were entitled to less than ordinary children.
"We didn't get any recognition or support from the government," she said.
Member Lavinia Stead, of South Grafton, said back then widows were entitled to 15 shillings, or $1.50 a week assistance from the government.
Norma Green, of South Grafton, said members did not want the association to close.
"I looked forward so much to the meetings," Mrs Green said.
"I love to go and talk about old times."
Nancy Williams joined Civilian Widows after her husband Mervyn died in 2004. Mrs Williams said the association was still relevant.
"Everyone here is in the same situation," Mrs Williams said.
"It is about friendship and company, and feeling like I belong instead of being lonely."
Member May Orr, of South Grafton, said the members loved each other and enjoyed the regular outtings.
"We just clicked," Mrs Orr said. "Everybody has lost a husband. They are a wonderful lot of people."
The group took part in meetings, regional get-togethers, picnics provided by Apex, church services, barbecues and bus trips.