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Bousen, William Raymond (Ray) (1911–2002)

Ray Bousen was a born and bred Toowoomba man, who represented the area as a state MP until the mid-1970s. Ray was actively involved in many community endeavours, industrial groups, and sporting interests, ensuring he was a well-known identity across the Darling Downs. William Raymond James Bousen was the fourth eldest of nine children, the son of Sydney Herbert and Annie Louise (nee Stayte). He attended the North State School until the age of 13, and often regretted not pursuing further formal education. Ray acknowledged, however, that his real education didn't actually start until he left school. Ray returned to the North School in 1969, when opening the A.E. Home Centenary Library. Ray loved the sport of rugby league and was an excellent player, representing Toowoomba while a young man. His involvement with the Newtown Rugby League Football Club continued unabated for many years after he had hung up his boots.

With a father who was an active member of the Federated Engine Drivers and Firemen's Association union, it was perhaps only natural Ray would follow in his footsteps. Ray joined Queensland Railways in 1925, initially posted to Murphys Creek as a lad porter. He later moved to Cooyar, working as a porter on the Cooyar Rail Motor when he met and married Doris Hooper. While in his 20s, Ray's developing interest in union matters saw him become the Australian Railways Union sub-branch secretary, and later chairman. He was based in Bundaberg and Charleville at this time, but in 1945 moved back to Toowoomba as a guard with the Railways. His involvement with the union continued and he became the Australian Railways Union State Council and State Conference local sub-branch secretary and delegate. Ray was also interested in political issues. A member of the Australian Labor Party since 1930, he was elected president of the Toowoomba West branch and campaign secretary for State and Federal elections. In 1953, Ray resigned from the Railways to become district secretary of the ARU, a position he held for almost 17 years. He subsequently became the Toowoomba Trades and Labour Council president, and the Trades Hall Board president. Ray also was the Combined Railways Union president, and Queensland Council executive of the ALP union delegate. Ray was accorded life membership of the ALP in 1978. After the retirement of former Deputy Premier, and one-time Toowoomba Mayor, Jack Duggan, Ray was elected as ALP Member to the seat of Toowoomba West in 1969. This seat was abolished by the 1971 redistribution and changed to the new seat of Toowoomba North. In Parliament, Ray held the post of Shadow Minister for Land and Forestry, and maintained his interest in the Government's railway policies. He also successfully fought for a pre-school at Harlaxton and Toowoomba's second special school in Gladstone Street.

At the 1974 State election, Ray, along with 21 other ALP Members, was wiped out by the massive swing against the party, due to the unpopularity of the Whitlam Federal Labor Government.

Ray subsequently became involved in community affairs, serving as the Subnormal Children's Welfare Association senior vice-president, and the development committee for the Darling Downs College of Advanced Education treasurer. He was on the Municipal Band and the Carnival of Flowers Board committees, and was the Labour Day celebrations committee chairman. Ray took a particular interest in the development of the Marching Girls Association. A co-founder of the Toowoomba Girls Marching Association (the first in Queensland), Ray also served as State secretary and was awarded life membership. Other involvements of Ray's included the Red Cross, the Toowoomba Tourist Association, the committee organizing the visit of overseas delegates on behalf of the Duke of Edinburgh's third study group conference, and vice-president of a committee conducting a diabetic survey, the first of its kind held in Queensland. Ray enjoyed lawn bowls, and was a prominent member of the West Toowoomba Bowls Club for several decades. The club recently presented Ray with his patriarch badge. He also participated fully in church affairs at St James's Anglican Church and St Alban's at Newtown. In 1991, Ray was awarded life membership of the Anglican Men's Society. Ray and Doris spent most of their married life in Toowoomba, where they raised two daughters Shirley and Norma. In 1998, they retired to Mt Coolum Aged Care Home, where Doris died last July. When Ray died aged 91, he was survived by his two children, three grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren.

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Citation details

'Bousen, William Raymond (Ray) (1911–2002)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, https://oa.anu.edu.au/obituary/bousen-william-raymond-ray-32478/text40296, accessed 9 December 2022.

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