Chapter 20 - Life Members

Chapter 20


The Life Members of the WAWSA/WASA are a special group of individuals who have given Softball WA its identity and they have become the identities of softball in WA.[i]

Table 20.1. Life members and club at the time of award.

Life Member Club

  1. Val Johnson (dec)                      Flying Club
  2. William Beecham (Wells) (dec) Blue Jays
  3. Pat Tatham (now Grice)           Fremantle Rebels
  4. Max Kitchens (dec)                  Bassendean Bombers
  5. Rona Trotter                             Blue Jays
  6. Joy Marsland (dec)                  Blue Jays
  7. Flo Ireland                               Blue Jays
  8. Freda Meloncelli (dec)            Victoria Park
  9. Shirley Roberts (dec)               Nedlands Rookies
  11. Greta Craig                              Fremantle Rebels
  12. Shirley Schneider                     Demons
  13. Shirley Boyd (dec)                   Hell’s Angels

1974 Peggy Beckett                           Hell’s Angels

1975 Donald Smith (dec)                  Nedlands Rookies

1976 Val Prunster                             Melville Saints

1979 Nox Bailey                                Gee Bees

1981 Lorraine Malcolm                     Bedford DYC

1983 Nina Menner                            Apache

1984 Alf Bunting                               Nollamara

1986 Roma MacKenzie (Piercy)       Apache

1987 Lorraine Page                          Demons

1988 Reg Page                                  Demons

1988 Robert McKibbin                      Bedford DYC

1993 Laurence Prior                         variety

1994 Connie Montgomery                 Morley Windmills

1995 Graeme Rector                         Bedford Men’s

1997 Don Brooks                              Apache

2009 Evelyn Harvey                          Morley Eagles

2009 Peter Baker                              Umpire

2010 Albert Dumaresq                      Girrawheen

2010 Kevin Osborne                          Bedford DYC

2015 Allan Collings

2015 Julie Richardon

2018 Karen Sullivan

2019 Tom Maher

2020 Tom Corcoran

2020 Kathryn Wylie

2021 Gary Butler

2021 Cathy Bertolini

2022 Deb Selth

2023 Chantelle James


Becoming a Life Member

Softball was still a young sport in WA when it appointed its first Life Member in 1952. At the Annual General Meeting held in May ‘Mr A Sladden moved and Miss J Rippin seconded that Miss Val Johnson be made a Life Member of the Association and that a small momento (sic) be given to her. The nature of the momento (sic) was left to the discretion of the Executive Committee’. The Executive Committee acted promptly and in the Minutes of the July Council the first item of General Business was ‘The Life Membership badge which was specially made for Miss V Johnson was passed around for everyone to see. It was suggested that presentation of the badge should have a newspaper writeup ….’ After some delays the presentation took place at the October Council meeting:

… it was the very pleasing duty of the President [Miss Joy Rippin to present to Miss Val Johnson a Life Membership Badge and a photo of the 1952 State team. Val is the first person to be made a Life member of the WAWSA and after receiving the badge and photo gave a very brief resume of softball’s initiation in WA.


The badge has crossed bats and a ball set against two overlapping diamonds. It is made of 9 carat gold and in 2010 cost approximately $380 per badge. The only change to the badge has been the changing of the organization from WAWSA to WASA.  There were, however, ongoing refinements of the eligibility criteria in the Constitution particularly those dealing with length of service and multiple nominations in a given year. Length of service was not an issue when the first two badges were awarded. Val Johnson was awarded Life Membership because of her commitment to WA softball in securing and organizing the 1952 national championship in Perth despite facing life-threatening illness, poliomyelitis. She had been involved with softball for the entire six years of its organization in Perth. Bill Wells became the second Life Member in 1955. He was Assistant Coach when WA recorded its first victory at the 1952 national championships and coached WA to two more victories in 1953 and 1955 giving WA three victories in its first five years in the competition. Bill had been with softball for just six years. At some point a clause was inserted in the Constitution whereby Life Members had to have served the Association for at least 10 years. Pat Tatham fulfilled this criterion and was awarded the third Life Membership in 1960. Excpt for 1967 a Life Member was appointed at each AGM throughout the 1960s: Max Kitchens, Rona Trotter, Joy Marsland (Nee Rippin), Flo Ireland, Freda Meloncelli, Shirley Roberts, Greta Craig and Shirley Schneider. Apart from Mrs Meloncelli whose contribution was ‘behind the scenes’ and as a scorer, all had been members of at least one State team and worked on the Executive and Council.


During the 1950s and ‘60s nominations were made by clubs and voted on by members and at the AGM. This approach was open, transparent and democratic. However, the process also hurt individuals who were not successful. Either a clause in the Constitution or a tradition was established whereby only one Life Membership was awarded each year. Multiple nominations were problematic. In 1964 Rona Trotter and Val Johnson nominated Flo Ireland and thus Pat Tatham’s nomination of Mrs Meloncelli was deferred until the following AGM. The 1968 call for nominations stated that nominations had to be in writing, include full details and comply with the requirements of the Constitution (Section 33). Three nominees were put forward: Greta Craig (Fremantle Rebels), Shirley Boyd (Hell’s Angels) and Marie Taylor (Melville Saints). Only Greta Craig was successful. At the AGM an amendment to the Constitution was passed:

That a Life Membership Committee be formed from Life Members to screen Life Member nominations and to submit to the General meeting the name of the candidate being voted on. Life Member Committee to be elected by Life Members from existing Life Members. In order to deal with this a Special General Meeting will be declared prior to the normal September meeting.


The initial Life Member Committee was Joy Marsland, Pat Tatham and Shirley Roberts.


Problems continued at the 1969 AGM. Again three nominations were submitted: Shirley Boyd (Hell’s Angels), Shirley Schneider (Demons) and Marie Taylor (Melville Saints). These were referred to the Life Membership Committee which rejected Boyd and Taylor. At a special meeting at the beginning of October the Chair of the Life Membership Committee gave a verbal report on Schneider’s nomination but the members did not pass it. Schneider’s club, Demons, wrote to the Council appealing against this decision because they believed that the President had erred when instructing new club, Hellenes, not to vote. A further special meeting was called for December based on a technicality that the October Special meeting had not been formally closed. In a very strange move Schneider was asked if she intended to accept. When she confirmed that she would, the members voted to grant Life Membership to her. In later life she acknowledged that the debate had taken ‘the thrill out of it’.[ii]


For Shirley Boyd it was a case of third time lucky. She was re-nominated by Hell’s’ Angels the following season but the required majority was not achieved when the vote was put to Council. No Life Membership was awarded. After some debate about the process and a further refinement requiring the Life Members’ Committee to ‘unanimously agree’ Shirley’s nomination was re-opened and the decision was reversed.  Clearly, change was needed because worthy candidates were suffering major embarrassment at what should have been a highlight of their softball careers. Shirley Roberts, supported by Joy Marsland, moved to give the Life Membership Committee full control of the process with the Council accepting the Committee’s decision. The Life Membership Committee was a means of protecting individuals from public hurt and effectively gave it the power to act as the gatekeepers to their group.


At the 1971 AGM the Life Membership Committee tabled a short report highlighting the points to be considered by clubs when nominating persons for Life Membership. Two themes were emphasized. First, the nominee had to have served the Association on one or more of its committees. A distinction was drawn between service to a club and service to the association. In other words, the candidate had to prioritise the association above the club. Secondly, the service had to have been rendered over a period of at least 10 years. Again a distinction was made, time was not sufficient by itself. This was evident in a further qualification that stated that State players did not qualify ‘unless outstanding service has been rendered in some other worthy capacity over a period of 10 years’. The report emphasised ‘Life Membership is an important much sought after goal, and we hope that they will realize that it cannot be given unless the candidate qualifies’. During interviews all Life Members expressed surprise at their recognition with most stating that it was not a specific aim, or indeed something that could be worked towards, rather it was a very special bonus. The Life Membership Committee took the initiative of proposing to hold an Annual Life Membership Dinner to be held on the second Thursday in July each year ‘where it is hoped that all past Life Members will attend and help with new ideas regarding all aspects of Life Membership’. At the Executive meeting in June 1971 it was decided to set up a committee ‘to investigate all aspects of softball’. Life Members were requested to see if anyone attending the dinner would be interested in joining the review committee. Despite the Life Membership Committee circulating the qualifications for Life Member nominees to all clubs, no nominations were forthcoming at the 1972 AGM. Undeterred the Committee used its powers in the Constitution to see if ‘there was anyone worthy of Life Membership this year but felt there was no one eligible’. It was only a subtle shift and probably only the Committee was aware of it but this step meant that there were two routes to Life Membership: nomination by a club, or, scrutiny by the Life Membership Committee. As gatekeeper the Committee was demonstrating a willingness to seek out worthy recipients.


The 10-year requirement became de rigueur. Despite efforts to avoid hurting nominees there was still the occasional glitch. Peggy Beckett was first nominated in 1973 but close checking of her record revealed that she had only served as Association Treasurer for nine years. She became a Life Member in 1974.  In 1975 there were two nominations. Don Smith was nominated by Nedlands Rookies and was successful but the Life Membership Committee, which appears to have adhered to its ‘one-a-year’ policy, did not support the nomination by Demons of Gail Egan. The next seven appointments –Val Prunster, Nox Bailey, Lorraine Malcolm, Nina Menner, Alf Bunting, Roma MacKenzie (Piercy) and Lorraine Page – proceeded smoothly.  When the Constitution was completely overhauled in 1987 Glenda Jackson (nee Deveson) queried why it was proposed that only one Life Membership could be given each year when there may be more than one person who has worked for softball for over 10 years. Following discussion the clause was deleted. The following year both Reg Page and Bob McKibbin were nominated and accepted.  Nomination of potential Life Members slowed in the 1990s with just four: Laurie Prior, Connie Montgomery, Graeme Rector and Don Brooks. Twelve years elapsed until Evelyn (Ev) Harvey and Peter Baker were recognized in 2009 followed by Albert Dumaresq and Kevin Osborne in 2010.  This does raise the question as to whether the criteria are too demanding given the changes that have taken place in lifestyles. People not only work longer hours but also more flexible hours especially since the advent of late night and Saturday trading which impact on training and competition times. There is a suggestion that people are still willing to volunteer but prefer to do so in short intense bursts rather than protracted engagement which Life Membership recognizes. People who give service to WA softball can be nominated for ASF Service Awards and people with less than 10 years service or less demanding roles have been recognized with this award (See Chapter 19). It is also important that people are recognized while they are visible members of the softball community.


Working as a Life Member

Initially, Life Membership conferred on recipients the right to attend meetings and vote. However, major changes to the constitution in the 1970s and 1980s gave the Life Members clearly defined powers in the Association which were gradually removed in the 1990s. In addition, many of the Life Members chose to nominate for office and/or specific positions with State teams. From the 1960s to the 1990s there was always a core group of Life Members involved in the decision-making. They were equally willing to take on the huge array of tasks generated by the growth of the sport. Val Johnson’s appointment as a Life Member in 1952 at the age of 21 created a precedent whereby Life Members continued to be very active members of the Association often for decades after being honoured. Pat Tatham continued as Secretary then as a member of the Executive, a Selector and Publicity Officer. Shirley Roberts held multiple positions as Secretary, Coach and delegate to the ASF after she was appointed Life Member. Shirley Schneider became President after she became a Life Member. A few Life Members simply exercised their right to attend the AGM and vote.


A new form of governance was introduced at a Special Meeting held prior to the 1974 AGM. The Executive Committee and Council were amalgamated to form the Management Committee. After a sequence of motions and amendments the status of the Life Members was changed significantly. Val Johnson supported a motion by Apache club that effectively required Life Members to apply in writing to be members of the Management Committee with full voting rights. It still left open the right to attend meetings when they wished but not to vote. The most active of the Life Members opted to stand for election to office and thus have voting rights. In the inaugural Management Committee eight of the thirteen Life Members had voting rights either as an elected office bearer or having applied for the right. They were Pat Grice, Greta Craig, Val Johnson, Shirley Boyd, Shirley Roberts, Shirley Schneider, Peggy Beckett and Joy Marsland. Bill Wells was working interstate and when he returned to WA he too sought to participate as did those awarded Life Membership in the late 1970s and early 1980s.


In essence, the majority of the Life Members were still very active members of the softball community and wanted to continue to contribute to the Association. These people were still young, most being in their thirties, having gained their Life Membership while in their twenties despite the 10-year service requirement. They also were guardians of softball in WA. Having done so much to set softball up they were eager to protect their hard work and to keep it growing.  The operation of the Management Committee placed more emphasis on Committees. Most Life Members had a specialty to which she/he was dedicated. Joy Marsland nourished junior softball via the Junior Development Committee and Junior Camp as well as managing the Under 16 team. Nox Bailey focused on finance and governance serving as both Secretary and Treasurer (but not simultaneously). As Manageress of the Senior Women’s team Val Prunster headed up fund raising activities which lead her to chair the Finance Committee. Shirley Schneider used her experience as Senior State coach to participate in national planning for coach accreditation and shared her knowledge in WA as State Coaching Director. Lorraine Malcolm became the scoring expert working with the Senior Women’s team and as Tournament Statistician for carnivals held in Perth. Lorraine Page progressed from managing the canteen at Yokine as fund raising for her club, Demons, to overseeing considerably expanded services at both Yokine and Mirrabooka.


Each committee, including the Life Members Committee, had the opportunity to report at Management Committee meetings. Interestingly the issues raised by the Life Members were usually far broader than just their Committee. For example, in August 1978, Pat Grice reported on the Yearbook while Don Smith called for nominations for the Under 19 State team. Initially Shirley Schneider’s reports as Coaching Director were recorded in the Minutes under Life Members rather than Coaching.  A further refinement occurred at the AGM in 1980 when the Life Membership Committee nominated four Life Members to serve on the Management Committee: Shirley Schneider, Pat Grice, Greta Craig and Joy Marsland. As well, Peggy Beckett was Treasurer. This was an effective way of getting representatives on the Management Committee and at the same time freeing up Executive and committee positions for club delegates. The major review of the structure and constitution of the WASA undertaken in 1987 was overseen by two Life Members - Shirley Schneider and Lorraine Malcolm. Bill Grice (Pat Grice’s husband) was the third member of the committee.


The new constitution set out a new and less prominent role for Life Members. Rather than Life Members applying join the Board, the Life Membership Committee nominated one delegate to represent all of them. Val Prunster held this position from 1987 to 2000 when further Constitutional refinements deleted the position. Life Members could still nominate for office. Reg Page became a Life Member in 1987 and was the unanimous choice for President for the next decade. Nox Bailey was Treasurer, Shirley Schneider continued as State Coaching Director, Lorraine Malcolm was the ASF Delegate, Bob McKibbin took on Junior Development, and Lorraine Page was in charge of the canteen. Roma MacKenzie was the delegate to WASF and Alf Bunting served as Junior Vice President.  Along with their obligation to attend and participate in meetings, at some stage most Life Members were key personnel in State teams. Prunster was Manageress of the Senior Women and then co-ordinated the Vets competition. Reg Page was coach of the Under 19 Men. Schneider and Malcolm were Coach and Statistician respectively for the Senior Women. McKibbin was coach of the Under 19 Women. Lorraine Page was coach of the Under 16 Girls. Schneider also took on the challenging role of co-ordinating national and international events held in Perth. The Life Members formed her key workforce and were determined that the rest of the Australian softball community should have a special, positive experience in WA. During these events the work ethic of the Life Members extended beyond their official titles. They were willing to attend to the most menial of tasks and were the ones still at the grounds long after the players and supporters had dispersed, storing away equipment, picking up litter, cleaning the dressing rooms and making sure that the facility was in as good if not better condition than when a tournament opened.  The pinnacle of their involvement came in the late 1980s when Reg Page successfully led the WASA to secure its own headquarters at Mirrabooka. At some stage the most active Life Members served on the Buildings Committee and then laboured on the multitude of tasks needed to finish the buildings and grounds be it painting, laying tiles, planting grass or hanging the back nets. The opening of the State Softball Centre at Mirrabooka in 1991 gave the Life Members a great deal of satisfaction and was an emotional experience for them with several admitting shedding tears at certain milestones such as the switching on of the lights.


During the 1990s the number of active Life Members began to decline. As they, or their spouses, reached retiring age other interests began to take their attention. Travel and grandchildren became high priorities and softball was left to a younger generation. The administration of softball changed to align with the business approach demanded by the government funding agents. This was reflected in the Board which was reduced to key office bearers and members with specific portfolios. Life Members no longer had a distinct role. Stalwarts like Schneider, Malcolm and Prior maintained their focus and were successful in being elected to the new Board elected in 2000. Schneider became Vice President, Malcolm oversaw Policy and Competitions while Prior was responsible for Grounds.


Attributes of Life Members

The WASA has 31 Life Members. Whether the Life Members of the WASA are unique in sport cannot be determined since no comparisons have been drawn with other sports. It is possible, however, to compare and contrast them as individuals to uncover attributes they share that have lead them to give so much of their lives to softball in WA.  The most obvious attribute shared by Life Members is their passion for playing softball which is clearly demonstrated by the number of years they have been involved. The first generation of women who began playing in the late 1940s and 1950s were generally in their late teens or early adulthood. Most played for at least a decade which took them into their thirties. Those who came to the fore in the 1960s as the second generation had the opportunity to play junior softball and so began at earlier ages. Thirty, forty and fifty years of playing highlight their devotion to softball. Roberts, Craig, Schneider, Beckett, Prunster, Menner, MacKenzie and Lorraine Page count in decades. Lorraine Page has played in Women’s/Summer softball from 1956 to the present. She and Beckett have extended their playing careers in the Vets. So keen were they to play that they were happy to play in the lower grades once their days in elite competition were over.  Initially men were limited to coaching and administration. Bill Wells, Max Kitchens and Don Smith made the most of the opportunities available to fulfill their passion. The advent Men’s softball in the 1970s gave men the chance to pursue their passion on the diamond but limited their duration because they started at a much older age than the women. Reg Page, Prior and Rector added playing to already extensive coaching careers with all three still active in Vets softball. Rector and Osborne continue to play in the Winter competition.


The passion of the Life Members began in their clubs to which they gave dedicated service as players and office bearers. Of the 31 WASA Life Members, 12 have been one club people and this is particularly so through until the end of the 1960s. For some like Grice, Craig and Malcolm, this means that they have been with their clubs for more than four decades. When clubs became defunct some Life Members moved to new clubs. For Schneider and the Pages movement between clubs was not planned but chosen when they were considered too old (in their mid-twenties) to play A grade. Others felt the need to make a clean start as did Roberts and Beckett who were the founding members of Apache after spending most of their careers with other clubs: Roberts with Nedlands Rookies and Beckett with Hell’s Angels. MacKenzie also transferred from Nedlands Rookies to Apache. Smith transferred from Nedlands Rookies to Hell’s Angels when the opportunity to coach A grade arose. Some have put softball above club and spent time with a variety of clubs. Prior has moved between clubs at the invitation of the clubs which offered him the opportunity to coach at a higher level. Prunster took a break from Melville Saints to help Mercedes College.


Based on club membership at the time of Life Membership being granted, the clubs with the most Association Life Members was Blue Jays with four followed by Demons with three and Nedlands Rookies, Hell’s Angels, Apache, Fremantle Rebels and Bedford DYC with two each (See Table 20.1) At some stage each Life Member has been their club’s delegate to the WAWSA/WASA which in turn has lead them to become elected office bearers.  The Life Members’ passion for softball often emerged after they warded off challenges from other sports although many managed to combine softball with one or more other sports. Flo Ireland came to softball after having been a member of the Australian crickrt team which toured New Zealand in 1948. Shirley Roberts was one of the group that helped establish international rules basketball as a sport for women in WA. In the early days of softball in WA the sports seasons were clearly divided between summer and winter so many of the women played either hockey or basketball (netball) or international/men’s rules basketball in winter. While they often played softball together in the same club, they became competitors in winter. Shirley Schneider played netball for Demons (no connection with softball club of the same name) while her Hell’s Angels teammate Lorraine Page played with Commercials. Don Smith managed to combine softball in summer with being the Property man and Trainer for Subiaco Football Club. Bob McKibbin played football with Swans in the amateur league until injury forced a change for him. Nina Menner could well have become an outstanding track and field athlete. Reg Page rowed. Graeme Rector initially preferred hockey. Social tennis and badminton attracted some like Greta Craig and Val Prunster. A few – Lorraine Malcolm, Laurie Prior, Connie Montgomery and Don Brooks – were softball only. When sports began to require year-round commitment from the 1970s, the ‘second’ sporting interest was sacrificed for softball.  Retirement from softball gave some Life Members the opportunity to try other sports. Rona Trotter and Flo Ireland became as passionate about golf as they had about softball. Likewise Pat Grice gave as much to lawn bowls as she had to softball and actively tried to recruit others. Greta Craig joined her. Nina Menner relocated to Exmouth and became a bowler, again reaching elite status and being named as Pilbara Sports Star of the Year in 2004.


The introduction of Veterans softball in 1993 created an opening for some to resume or continue to with softball. Greta Craig, Shirley Schneider and Roma MacKenzie played while Shirley Roberts and Lorraine Malcolm coached. Lorraine Page and Peggy Beckett have continued to play to the present. Lorraine Page also continued to play Summer competition with Reg as her coach until 2013. Val Prunster was co-ordinator of the early seasons of Vets softball. Graeme Rector participates all year round playing Vets in summer and Winter Competition with Bedford Men’s. Laurie Prior plays Vets with Wanneroo.  


In the founding years softball relied on baseball for umpires and coaches and some baseballers chose to stay with softball. Softballers sold catch cards and played curtain raisers before night baseball matches at the WACA in the 1950s so it is not surprising that the affiliation to baseball should among the attributes of Life Members. Indeed, when the WAWSA voted to award Life Membership to Val Johnson in 1952 it was suggested that ‘if it could be arranged, to have presentation made on Saturday at the first game of the Baseball Carnival’.[iii] Bill Wells played for Swans. Max Kitchens coached Swan Districts and Bellevue Baseball Clubs. Don Smith played with Wembley Athletics. Alf Bunting played with Northern Suburbs, Melville and Fremantle Baseball Clubs. Bob McKibbin had six years with Swan Valley Baseball Club. Among the women Rona Trotter scored for Perth Baseball Club in the early 1960s. Roma MacKenzie scored for Wembley Baseball Club for three decades, served as club president and became a Life member of it. Lorraine Malcolm’s husband, Ron, has been a long time member of Morley Eagles Baseball Club and their three sons – Ron, Trevor and Craig – all played with WA’s professional baseball team, Perth Heat. Nina Menner’s husband played for WA in the 1960s. Most recently Lorraine and Reg Page’s grandson, Aaron Bonomi, has a scholarship to study and play baseball at Winthrop College, South Carolina, USA. Ev Harvey spent many years a scorer for baseball. Her son-in-law, Gary Butler has been heavily involved in softball as State coach of the Under 19 men while other members of Harvey’s family are immersed in BMX competitions.


With few exceptions, the Life Members pursued their passion for softball to the highest level available to them. Twelve of the 19 women Life Members have represented WA as a player on at least one occasion in the Senior Women’s team. Three have gone on to be Australian players: Pat Grice (but did not play any international matches); Flo Ireland (vice captain twice) and and Nina Menner. After successful playing careers these women have been eager to help those following them to have worthwhile experiences and so Life Members are very prominent as team officials: coach/assistant coach, manager and scorer. Reg Page coached the Under 19 Australian men’s team, Shirley Schneider was Assistant Coach to an Australian women’s team on a tour of New Zealand. Shirley Boyd was Scorer for the Australian Under 19 women’s team while Lorraine Malcolm was named as Scorer to the Australian women’s team but had to withdraw. Graeme Rector managed the Australian Men’s team for the Test Series against New Zealand played at Mirrabooka in 1991. Val Johnson pursued umpiring and reached Australian and International status in the pre-1985 system while Peter Baker has worked an an ASF Level 6 umpire for many years.

Table 20.2. Positions with State teams.

Life Member State team positions

Nox Bailey                        manager m (1)

Peggy Beckett                   player (8), assistant coach (1)

Shirley Boyd                     manager (2), scorer (1), scorer U19 (12)

Alf Bunting                       manager m (1)

Greta Craig                      player (10)

Pat Grice                          player (3), manager (10), assistant coach (1)

Flo Ireland                        player (11), manager (3)

Val Johnson                      player (1), manager (1), scorer (5), umpire

Max Kitchens                    coach (5), manager (1)

Lorraine Malcolm            scorer (21)

Joy Marsland                    player (2), manager (1), manager U16 (11)

Nina Menner                     player (15), assistant coach (3)

Lorraine Page                  player (3), assistant coach U16 (6), coach U16 (12), assistant coach U19 (3)

Roma Piercy                     player (1), manager (3), manager U19 (5)

Val Prunster                      manager (13), manager U16 (1)

Shirley Roberts                 player (6), coach (6), scorer (1), manager (2)

Shirley Schneider             player (9), assistant coach (2), coach (18)

Donald Smith                   assistant coach U19 (2), coach (2)

Val Prunster                      manager (13), manager U16 (1)

Rona Trotter                      player (7), manager (3), scorer (1)

William Wells                    assistant coach (1), coach (2)

Table 20.2.
(cont) Positions with State teams.

Life Member                    State team positions
Peter Baker                      Level 6 ASF umpire

Albert Dumaresq              Level 4 Umpire

Ev Harvey                         scorer U19 m (23), scorer m (2)

Robert McKibbin             assistant coach U16 (2), coach U16 (6), coach U19 (12), assistant coach U19 m (1)

Connie Montgomery         manager U16 (6)

Kevin Osborne                 coach U16

Reg Page                          assistant coach U19 (6), coach U19 m (11), coach m (1), manager m (1)

Laurence Prior                 assistant coach U19 (5), coach U16 (3+)

Graeme Rector                 manager m (8)



1. Unless denoted ‘m’, all teams are women’s teams. ‘m’ refers to men’s teams.

2. Numbers in brackets refer to years in position but not necessarily consecutive years.

3. Laurie Prior continues to coach State teams.

The commencement of the Under 16 Girls’ national championship in 1970 opened up opportunities for more people to work with State and national teams. Of the Life members associated with State teams the majority have been with women’s teams reflecting gender focus of softball until the 1980s. By the end of the 1980s WA was entering six teams in national championships each year, each team having its own officials and a trend becomes evident of Life Members becoming team officials. Joy Marsland managed the Under 16 girls. Pat Grice and Val Prunster managed the Senior Women. Lorraine Page and Bob McKibbin had extensive experience with the Under 16 and Under 19 women’s teams. Reg Page and Bob McKibbin have coached Under 19 women’s and men’s teams. While Under 16 and Under 19 competitions have been in existence since the 1970s, no Life Member has played at this level. Many of the Life Members have been willing umpires on Saturdays for juniors in the morning and seniors in the afternoon but few apart from Johnson and Baker have maintained and renewed qualifications. Lorraine Page, however, was a volunteer for the innovative Green Shirt program introduced in the 2007-08 season to increase the number of umpires in the Summer Competition.


Despite the willingness of Life Members to accept major responsibilities with State teams, they have been dealt some very unpleasant blows which have shown them to possess remarkable resilience in the face of adversity. Bill Wells was dropped as State Coach in 1954 despite having helped guide WA to successive victories in 1952 and 1953 but he was reinstated in 1955 and WA won again. Shirley Schneider had to continually battle against senior and A grade players who refused to stand when she was appointed State Coach. Some players even petitioned against her appointment. Following seventh placing at the 1993 national championships she was relieved of her position as Senior Coach. After a very short period of withdrawal she resumed as State Coaching Director and from 2005 to 2007 served as Acting General Manager and is credited with saving the WASA more than$50,000. Val Prunster as Manageress had to cope with several instances of players breaking curfew and even of committing criminal offences. She stepped down but after a short break was coaxed back. Reg Page and Bob McKibbin were sanctioned because of serious misbehaviour by the 1998 Under 19 Men’s team. However, the Association was more than willing to welcome Reg back as Senior Men’s Coach in 2001 when it looked like a team would not contest the nationals. Alf Bunting immediately offered his services as Manager. Those sitting in judgment have usually been their peers – current office bearers and fellow Life Members. In other words, they have been prepared to discipline their own but even more willing to forgive especially if there was a job to be done.


Life Membership recognizes a recipient’s contribution to the Association above and beyond their membership of State teams. Indeed, Life Members have usually held multiple roles simultaneously. Flo Ireland was President and State captain in 1962 and 1963. Shirley Schneider was President and a State player in the early 1970s. All have been prepared to take on senior leadership roles such as President, Vice President, Secretary and Treasurer, and have therefore been integral to the Executive.  Their terms in office have usually been extensive. Val Johnson had 10 years as President, Reg Page served as President from 1979 to 1997 then returned to the position from 2007 to 2010. Peggy Beckett was Treasurer for 20 seasons. Joy Marsland was Vice President for 12 years. Life Members have been volunteers. In the 1990s government funding became available for the employment of staff but only Shirley Schneider has extended time as a professional staff member as State Coaching Director. She held the position from the mid-1970s and was employed in 1991. Most recently she was Acting General Manager. She concurrently held volunteer positions such as Senior Women’s Coach and Vice President. Connie Montgomery was a paid Administrative Assistant after the position of Secretary was removed. Honorariums were paid to office bearers such as Secretary and Treasurer and more recently Canteen Manager but the sums did not go anywhere near covering personal expenses. Some Life Members have undertaken tasks such as marking the diamonds and managing the canteen for which they have received minimal payment.

Table 20. 3. Executive and Committee positions held by Life Members

Life Member                   Position

Nox Bailey                     Committee (5), Secretary (4), Treasurer (6) Canteen (5), Secretary m (2), Treasurer m (11), Publicity Officer m (8)

Peggy Beckett                 Treasurer (20)

William Beecham            Committee (7), Publicity Officer

Shirley Boyd                   Committee (4+)

Alf Bunting                     Committee (16), Treasurer (3),  Patron (8)

Greta Craig                    Committee (7), Registrar (20+)

Flo Ireland                      President (2), Committee (2)

Val Johnson                     President (10), Vice President (1)

Max Kitchens                  Committee (2), Vice President (5)
Roma MacKenzie            Vice President (7), Country Secretary (3), WASF Delegate (17)

Lorraine Malcolm           Committee (22), ASF Delegate (18), Umpires’ & Scorers’ Committee (10), State Scoring Director (12)

Joy Marsland                  Vice President (14), Junior Committee (10+)

Robert McKibbin            Vice President (3), Junior Committee (12), Junior Development Officer (7)
Nina Menner                   Management Committee

Lorraine Page                 Committee (7), Canteen (14)
Reg Page                         President (23), Vice President m (1)
Laurence Prior                Committee (20), Vice President (3), Convenor Summer (8), Convenor Winter (4)

Val Prunster                    Committee (10), Finance (14), Vets’ Coordinator (4), Life Member Delegate (14)

Shirley Roberts                Secretary (8), President (1), Committee

Shirley Schneider            Registrar (1), President (5), Vice President (10), State Coaching Director (20+)

Donald Smith                  Committee (11), Propertyman (8)

Pat Tatham                      Vice President (3), Secretary (7), Publicity Officer (10+), Committee (10+)

Rona Trotter                    Executive (6+)

Table 20. 3.
(cont) Executive and Committee positions held by Life Members

Life Member Position

Peter Baker                      Technical Portfolio

Don Brooks                       Treasurer (10), Convenor Summer (6)

Albert Dumaresq              Convenor State Championships (3)

Ev Harvey                         Registrar, SSL

Connie Montgomery         Committee (4), Secretary (6), Summer Competition Secretary (10)

Graeme Rector                 Vice President (7), President m (3)



1. Numbers in brackets denote years, not necessarily consecutive.

2. The term ‘Committee’ has been used as a generic term to cover an elected position of management for all types of governance.

4. ‘m’ refers to men’s as in the WA Men’s Softball League.

On the subject of money, the Life Members could be deemed to be very conservative in their attitudes towards spending money because they were all conscious that the funds of the Association had been derived from the efforts of volunteers. It was not their money, they were custodians whose responsibility was to get the best value for money for softball. This is evident in the accumulation and investment of funds that enabled the Association to build the State Softball Centre at Mirrabooka. It is also evident in their ability to keep the costs to State players and team officials – the Levy – amongst the lowest in Australia although the Levy was often felt by the players to be quite substantial. With the majority of national championships played ‘over east’ distance traveled has meant WASA has had to pay higher travel costs than other States/Territories. To the WASA’s credit once WA entered a team in a national championship they have been represented ever since. When the Senior Men considered not participating in 2001 Reg Page stepped in to be coach and to secure donations of as much team clothing and equipment as he could.


This conservative approach to money has probably stemmed from their backgrounds as youngsters who began their softball careers in the 1950s and were still acutely aware of the deprivations experienced during World War II. The Life Members were from working class families and most left school as soon as they could to enter the workforce. A few have subsequently obtained trade and technical qualifications by studying part-time at ‘tech’ in the evenings. The women have followed the traditional careers open to them in post-War Australia predominantly in offices and retail. Two of the women - Lorraine Malcolm and Shirley Boyd – have been full-time homemakers taking short-term part-time employment to raise funds to pay for softball trips. Of the men, only two – Alf Bunting and Laurie Prior – have been self-employed. Their conservativeness with money can also be linked to their own limited incomes and raising young families. The point is, these people have held full-time jobs with increasing amounts of responsibility in addition to their equivalent full-time softball work. It has been suggested that several of them – Reg Page and Shirley Schneider in particular - have put softball above their employment and thus probably limited their opportunities in the work place. When asked to reflect on this, they had no regrets.

Table 20.4. Occupations of Life Members

Life Member Employment

Val Johnson               Nurse

William Wells            Journalist, Public Relations

Pat Grice                  Office worker, Journalist

Max Kitchens            Business

Rona Trotter              Office worker

Joy Marsland            Factory worker

Flo Ireland                Administrator

Freda Meloncelli      Homemaker

Shirley Roberts         Office worker

Greta Craig               Sales assistant

Shirley Schneider      Book-keeper

Shirley Boyd              School cleaner (part-time)

Peggy Beckett            Office manager

Donald Smith            Armoury for bank

Val Prunster              Sales; store manager

Nox Bailey                Office Administration

Lorraine Malcolm     Homemaker

Nina Menner             Personal Assistant

Alf Bunting                Cabinet maker, Own business, Farmer

Roma MacKenzie      Housekeeper

Lorraine Page           School Secretary

Reg Page                   Sales; department store manager

Robert McKibbin      Environmental Health

Laurence Prior         Cabinet maker, Own business

Connie Montgomery Secretary

Graeme Rector          Public Service

Don Brooks                Banking

Ev Harvey                  Office manager

Peter Baker                Engineer; Transport, Own business

Albert Dumaresq        Royal Navy; sales

Kevin Osborne           Motor industry

The nature of their employment classifies the Life Members as working and middle class. They preferred to have steady employment and incomes which would allow them to give as much time and effort to their families and softball as they wished.  A common attribute of the Life Members is that they are highly organized individuals who have successfully balanced the demands of the equivalent of three full-time jobs: softball, employment and family life. While the contribution of the Life Members to softball has been exceptional, their family and life experiences suggest that they are like the rest of the community. At the time of becoming a Life Member all but six were married and busy raising young families. On average they have two or three children with Connie Montgomery having eight and Lorraine Malcolm five. Softball and family life have interacted in several ways. First, has been the involvement of the spouses. Bob Schneider and Ron Malcolm have been maintenance and groundsmen. Lil Smith was Scorer for the Under 16s for nine years and was equally involved with Don in Nedlands Rookies and South Perth Angels. Ron Piercy rose to Vice President as did Bill Grice. Des Prunster was Registrar for the Vets. Other spouses have not been so visible but have been extremely supportive driving their wife and children and multitude of team members to and from matches and meetings.


For those who were fully engaged in softball when they married and had their families, their families have also become softballers although not necessarily reaching the same heights as their parents. The children of Life Members who have followed their parent into softball and State teams include Susan Kitchens, Diane Marsland, Susan Meloncelli, Julie Piercy, the Pages - Susan, Raymond and Bernard, and Stephen Prior. For others – Don Smith, Lorraine Malcolm, Connie Montgomery and Don Brooks, it has been their children who have lead them into softball. They, too, have had children in WA State teams: Donna Smith, Sheryl and Debbie Malcolm, Glendah and Tanya Montgomery and Alison Brooks. Debbie Boyd followed her mother, Shirley, as a Scorer for the Under 16 Girls’ team. Grandchildren and great grandchildren now represent the third and fourth generations enjoying softball.  As with the rest of the community family life has not always been picture perfect. Families have brought great joy but for some family tragedies have tested them including illness, motor vehicle accidents, rebellious children, disabled family members and marriage breakdowns. In other words they have not been immune from the traumas of modern life. For those whose lives have been disrupted, softball gave them something to focus on and help with the grieving process.


Family responsibilities and commitment to softball meant that many of the Life Members opted to have a station wagon for transport. Their own children plus other young team members and bags of equipment were routinely carried.  The Life Members have been WA-centric and softball-centric. Shirley Schneider is the only one to have had continuous involvement with the ASF as coaching director and a national selector and she was made an ASF Life Member in 2000 in recognition of this. Reg Page coached an Australian team, Bob McKibbin was an Australian selector and Lorraine Malcolm served for 14 years as WA delegate to the ASF. Reg Page made several attempts to become an ASF office bearer but did not succeed. Likewise, apart from Val Johnson and Roma MacKenzie no WASA people have held office in generic sports governing bodies. Val was a strong advocate of National Fitness and served as Secretary to the Association of National Fitness Leaders. Roma was WASA’s delegate to the WASF but found it difficult to get softball to play a role in the overall development of sport in WA. With State government funding for sport initially from the Department of Sport and Recreation and then Heathway, Reg Page and Shirley Schneider spent many hours completing the required paperwork and attending meetings to present the case for softball. Given their huge commitment to softball it is probably unreasonable to expect any more of people whose time was fully occupied.


A major characteristic of most Life Members is that they continued to serve softball for extended periods after they were honoured. Some like Shirley Schneider, the Pages, Peggy Beckett, Lorraine Malcolm, Laurie Prior and Kevin Osborne are still involved but for others retirement usually came when they felt they could not contribute any more or that they believed other, younger people should take over. However, the strong bond between Life Members and enormous respect for each other has meant that when one asked for assistance they responded. Thus when Shirley Schneider has convened national championships she has had a ready workforce to support her: Lorraine Malcolm as tournament statistician, Don Brooks on the gate, Val Prunster organizing social functions and catering for the VIPs and raffles, Greta Craig taking charge of the merchandise stall with Laurie Prior and Ron Malcolm being ever ready to maintain the diamonds.


Over time the Life Members have developed a strong camaraderie that is particularly evident when they meet annually for either a lunch or dinner. Initially, these social events were limited to Life Members but in recent times each had been able to bring a guest, usually their spouse. Some see it as an opportunity to include those who they believe should share the privileges of Life Membership. Flo Ireland brings Barb Groves, Rona Trotter invites Norma Stone, Val Prunster takes Gaye Eames.

Without Life Members how would WA softball have fared?


[i] The profiles honouring each Life Member highlight their specific contribution and have been been constructed from personal interviews, records where they exist and in some cases media coverage. It is not the practice of the WASA to provide citations to Life Members at the time of their appointment which, combined with the absence of Minutes for the period 1960 to 1965 and copies of early constitutions, has probably left some gaps in some profiles. Nor have written records been located for the Life Membership Committee which was formed in 1968.

[ii] Shirley Schneider, Interview, May 1992.

[iii] Minutes, WAWSA Council meeting, July 1952.