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Burnside, William Alexander (1868–1942)

Deep and widespread regret was occasioned throughout the Healesville district on Monday when it became known that Mr. William Alexander Burnside, J.P., had passed away the previous evening, after a protracted illness.

Mr. Burnside was one of Healesville’s most prominent citizens and business men, and his passing is lamentable indeed. He was of a quiet, unassuming and gentlemanly nature, and was respected by and popular with all sections of the community among whom he had labored so unsparingly and long, and of whose promotion and well-being he was always an enthusiastic advocate.

Mr. Burnside, who was aged 74, was born in Ballarat, and attended the Ballarat Grammar School. He came to Healesville as a young man, with his parents, in about 1886. His father assumed dairying interests on the Bonna Vista Estate, which in those days extended along McGretton's road to a frontage on the Yarra.

Subsequently Mr. Burnside established himself in the grocery trade at Healesville, remaining in this building for 54 years and building up an excellent connection.

As a young man in Ballarat he had interested himself in all forms of sport, and was a prominent footballer and cricketer. He continued these proclivities at Healesville, and as time went on there was not a sporting body in the town that did not receive his whole-hearted encouragement and support. He was prominently connected, too, with many other avenues of public enterprise, and was a leading member of the Healesville Shire Council for 18 years, occupying the presidential chair for three terms, and being president in office when the armistice was declared on November 11, 1918.

Mr. Burnside was chairman of the Healesville Water Trust at the time of his demise, being the elected Government representative on that body. He gave many years of unstinted and valuable service to the promotion of a local municipal affairs.

For a number of years Mr. Burnside was president of the Healesville Bowling Club, members of which always regarded him as the father of the club. He officiated as justice of the peace on the local Bench for many years, and was prominently associated with the Mechanics' Institute.

Prior to the interment in the Healesville cemetery on Monday afternoon a commemorative service was held at St John's church of England, with the Rev. S. J. Muxworthy officiating. Both the service and the funeral were attended by Mr. Burnside's old and life-long friend, Mr. W H. Everard, M.L.A, and by the shire president (Cr. A. Cameron) and the Healesville councillors and water trust commissioners. There was a crowded congregation of mourners, representative of all local interests and sections of the community, and the reverent proceedings were most impressive.

Following the reading of the 90th Psalm, the vicar spoke movingly and at length of Mr. Burnside's many inestimable qualities, and of the high esteem in which he was held both as a public citizen and as a lovable Christian gentleman. The vicar told of how in the early days of the church at Healesville, before there was electric light, Mr. Burnside, in fair and inclement weather, was so assiduous in his Christian duty as to be always in early attendance to light the lamps for service.

The casket was covered with numerous beautiful wreaths, including two from the president and councillors of the Shire of Healesville.

As the lengthy cortege followed the route along Nicholson street, before turning into Don road to reach the cemetery, the doors of all business premises were closed as a fitting and final tribute of respect to the passing of one of the street's most notable and best loved identities. The road way was lined with townspeople, and the funeral procession was one of the most imposing ever seen here.

By the time the cemetery gates were reached the cortege had assumed massive proportions, due to augmentation en route, residents coming in from miles around to pay their tribute to their old friend and highly esteemed citizen. Mr. Everard and the shire president and councillors followed the casket to the graveside, several councillors acting as pall-bearers. The graveside service and final obsequies were administered by the Rev. Muxworthy.

All will join in extending deepest sympathy to Mrs. Burnside and members of the bereaved family.

The arrangements were capably discharged by Mr. F. Heritage.

Original publication

Additional Resources

Citation details

'Burnside, William Alexander (1868–1942)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://oa.anu.edu.au/obituary/burnside-william-alexander-16327/text28281, accessed 24 August 2019.

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