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Ethel May Wood

Mavis Ethel Burgis


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Frank Bernard Williams

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Mavis Ethel Burgis

  • Born: 15 Jun 1915, East Ballarat, Vic
  • Christened: 7 Nov 1915, Methodist E Ballarat
  • Marriage: Frank Bernard Williams 12 Sept 1942 at 2.30 pm in South Preston Methodist Church Yann St
  • Died: 26 Jun 1992, Reservoir, Vic at age 77
  • Buried: Cremated, Preston Cemetery, Vic

bullet   Cause of her death was Cancer and Heart Attack.

bullet   Another name for Mavis was Doll or Dolly Burgis.


bullet  General Notes:

Born East Ballarat Vic Australia Reg No 9238
Christened methodist Church East Ballarat
Died at home 21 Wilkinson St Reservoir
Ashes buried in the Burgis Grave Preston Cemetery Area K Grave No 07531 on 14 Aug 1992

Mavis parents were living at 6 Queen St Ballarat opposite the old curiosity shop when she was born. Mavis had an older sister Gladys May Burgis 6 years her senior and a brother Arthur Ronald (Ron) Burgis 2 years her senior. Gladys started the nick name Doll as her younger sister looked like a Doll (Dolly) as a baby. To Gladys and Ron's children she was known as Aunty Doll. The family shifted to McArthur St Ballarat.

Mavis Ethel Burgis started school at 4½ years of age at Humffray Street School Ballarat. She was living at the rear of a grocery shop in Lydiard Street near Ballarat Station and as a child caught diphtheria and spent 6 weeks in Ballarat Hospital. The family shifted to Melbourne to another grocery shop at 171 Nelson Place, Williamstown in 1921. I (Lindsay) had occasion to visit the shop and the rear where the family lived was being renovated. The living quarters still had the old doors, skirting boards, fireplace, stair case rails etc and it was quite spacious with three large rooms upstairs and kitchen and living room etc down stairs. The first floor front room looked out over the water to Melbourne City. Mavis went to school for 6 months at Williamstown State School. The family then shifted to Preston where they had a mixed sweet shop and meals at 81 High St. Mavis started school at South Preston State School in third grade and went to seventh grade(Form F) before attending Preston Girl's High School in its inaugural year 1928 obtaining her Merit Certificate that year at age 13 years old. At High School Mavis was fond of basketball, rounders and tennis.

The family shifted to 20 Roseberry Ave Preston when Mavis was 10 in 1925 and they were there until she was 23 years old when they moved to 13 Kinkora Ave East Preston. Her brother Ron and wife Ena lived at the rear in 704 Plenty Road Preston and one could walk through the gate between both properties.

Mavis left school at 14 to look after her mother for 2 years before becoming a milliner at Sargood Gardner's Warehouse in Flinders Lane for 11 years from 1931 to 1942 until she was married. In one of her photographs Mavis is wearing a matching hat, scarf and bag she made.


When younger, Doll was first attended the South Preston Methodist Sunday School before becoming involved as a member of the choir, tennis club, gymnasium, concert party and basket ball club. Her backhand at tennis was very unusual with the racket hand (right hand) being twisted anti-clockwise from the forehand to the backhand so that she hit the ball with the same face of the racket for both forehand and backhand shots. She met Frank at the church when she was 17 years old and they had a happy courtship for many years.

The whole family had an involvement with the South Preston Methodist Church in Yann St. Mavis sung in the choir and went to church regularly. Mavis' involvement with the church ceased when she discovered that the missions in Australia were taking aboriginal children from their parents by force - the stolen generation. Until then, there even had been talk of us adopting an aboriginal child.

Mavis describes her time after her marriage to Frank as " an extremely happy marriage and Lindsay was born in 1944 followed by Gregory in November 1948. These two births compensated for the sadder sorrows of Franks Ma and Pa and Mavis parents all passing away within 10 years from 1942 to 1952." Mavis enjoyed a happy family life with the welfare of Frank and the children being a first priority.

Doll was involved with Reservoir High School where she was secretary then president of the Mothers Club, member of the School Council, joint manager of the school canteen when the Manager was sacked for accepting supplier pay-offs, and with the help of Dad's design she sowed the school banner and the house banners. Mavis also had the school sports ground named after her, the M.E. Williams tennis courts as I recall. She suffered from a hereditary hearing disorder where the bones in the ear become restricted. For many years she wore a hearing aid but when a child was diagnosed with the same problem, Mavis went and had stapedectomies in both ears and they were successful. She writes, "This gave me great joy."

When the school fate was being organised, her child went out to the school to help erect the tressels and tables for the stalls. Mavis was giving her normal instructions and her child was following when a group of women from the Mother's Club came up and started to tell the child to alter the layout. Mavis immediately turned off her hearing aid and continued issuing instructions. I beg your pardon she would say every now and then as the women tried to get things altered. After a short time they gave up and walked away and Mavis winked. After her youngest had finished year 12, Mavis relinquished her interests in the school.

Added pleasure was given to her life when her children brought home partners and she became an addition to the family. Mum had always wanted a daughter and when a grand daughter came along as her first grandchild she finally had a daughter in law and a baby girl to help love and dress up in many hand made clothes. Then then another partner to the Williams fold and she soon had 5 grandchildren. She wrote, "these grand children and daughters in law bought endless joy".

Mavis listed her interests as tennis, gymnasium, concert party, choir, Sunday school, Christian endeavour society, basket ball, sewing and dancing. One of her great loves was yoga where she went weekly to classes run by Pauline Hart and she kept a book describing the exercises and a folder of Pauline's roneoed notes. The grand children were taken to yoga when they were staying at Ma's place over the school holidays as Pauline was recalling at Frank's place some 10 years after Mavis had passed on.

After Frank retired in 1980, Mavis and Frank played tennis and went dancing together. Mavis broke her hip and had a hip replacement operation after some time spent trying for a natural cure. They did not get to spend the time travelling together after Frank retired as they had expected. However, Frank went to tennis and Mavis and he would go dancing. In 1988 she had a fall and the other hip was fractured and a plate and pins were used to repair it. In 1989 she had a blocked artery and underwent an emergency operation. Mavis was diagnosed with breast cancer and she only had the lump removed. Some years later she had cancer in the back and Frank lovingly nursed her through some rough times before she finally passed away in his arms. He painted a tribute to her and there are two identical paintings of her life given to the two sons.

Mavis was loving wife to Frank and a lifetime mate. Their relationship was very loving and caring with very few angry words being exchanged. Mavis was also a very loving Mother  but did expect her children to perform better in most aspects than they were able or willing to achieve. She loved her grand children very deeply making clothes for them and looking after them.


bullet  Noted events in her life were:

• Birth, 15 Jun 1915, East Ballarat, Vic. Born at 6 Queen St Ballarat opposite the old Curiosity Shop


Mavis married Frank Bernard Williams, son of Frank Bernard Goulding and Mary (May) Margaret Louisa Williams, 12 Sept 1942 at 2.30 pm in South Preston Methodist Church Yann St. (Frank Bernard Williams was born on 20 Oct 1915 in 60 Fifth Street, Boxburg Nth, South Africa and died on 22 Aug 2003 in Reservoir Vic.)

bullet  Marriage Notes:

The minister was Rev W.J. Ormandy in the presence of Jean McKechnie and Kenneth Williams - Frank's Cousin

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This web page was updated on 23 September 2011