Betty was born Ursula “Betty” Gaynor on 26th
June, 1917, to Elizabeth (Bessie) and William (Bill) Gaynor in Corrimal, a
northern suburb of Wollongong. She was the eldest of their five children, which
include a sister Molly, and three brothers Jim, Tom and Jack. Her father Bill
held several very prominent positions in the local community including being an
alderman and Mayor for three terms in the former North Illawarra Council. He
was responsible for the supervision of the installation of power and lighting
throughout the Municipality.
Betty attended Corrimal Primary School and later
Smith’s Hill Domestic Science High School in Wollongong. She commenced working
at Kenmore Psychiatric Hospital in Goulburn as an Aid when her formal education
ended, but spent most of her working life at the Scout Shop in Port Kembla,
carrying out various tasks. During this period of her life, Betty was a lady
Cubmaster with the Corrimal Cub Pack and during the war, when the Scoutmaster
was called up for service, Betty ran the Scout Troop as well. Around this time,
she noticed a young, dashing Russell Aitcheson, another Scouter. Friendship,
common interests and common friends brought this couple together and over time,
during the war, Betty and Russell’s relationship blossomed and on 15 August,
1942 they tied the knot, almost 70 years ago. Russell was serving in the Army
at the time, and wasn’t sure when he would be sent overseas, so Betty remained
at the family home in Corrimal.
Like many young marrieds at the time, time together
was precious and too infrequent, but in due time, baby John arrived in January
1944, thirteen months later, along came Ruth in February 1945. In September
1946 Barbara arrived and to the surprise of all, 15 minutes later, David made
his presence felt, four little ones, all under three years. Betty and Russell
have their hands full!
discharged in January 1946 and so they began their married lives in earnest,
building a new home and raising their little family. There were few luxuries
after the war, ever essentials were scarce, but in 1947 they moved into their
new home at Mt Ousley north of Wollongong. In 1951, only weeks after the twins
turned four, they were admitted to Wollongong Hospital with Polio. Around the
same time, both John and Ruth had spells in the same Hospital, one with
Jaundice and the other with Scarlet Fever. David had to have intensive
physiotherapy be Betty and Miss Ross the Physiotherapist. Betty took all this
in her stride and showed the same strength and positive attitude that was to
help her through her major health issues in later years.
Since the end of the war, Russell worked in his
trade as a bricklayer and then later as a Trades Teacher on a part-time basis
at Wollongong Technical Collage. In 1968 Russell and Betty were moved to Madang
in New Guinea to take a teaching position. While there, Betty went back into
Scouting, running two native cub packs and one European pack and was appointed
Area Cub Leader, running training courses to train new Cub Leaders. When Betty
and Russell arrived in Madang District in 1968, there were only two Scout/Cub
groups. When they left five years later, there were twenty-two groups and still
growing. A testament to hard work and commitment.
After their time in New Guinea, Betty and Russell
returned once again. This time to East Maitland where Russell had been
appointed to a full-time position at Newcastle Technical collage, where he
remained until his retirement in 1984. Whilst in Adelaide Street, East
Maitland, Betty assisted cub packs in Maitland and Morpeth.
During 1977, while visiting friends in Orange, Betty
was baptized in one of the local churches. That event started a new era of
interest and activity with the church for Betty.
The following year in 1978, was when Betty was
stricken with her first cancer. The following year, cancer was detected in
Betty’s liver this time. More Chemotherapy! She tolerated the treatment
extremely well, due to God-directed doctors and nurses and Betty’s positive
outlook and much prayer.
Radio Rhema Ministry came about as a direct result
of the effects of Betty and Russell who, after answering an advertisement for a
volunteer to help establish a Christian radio station, traveled to New Zealand
and took up the challenge. The rest is history.
Years went by, and Betty had three more cancers.
After the last episode she felt she would not be able to bear another course of
Chemotherapy. So on 2nd September 2011 in the small hours, Betty’s
pain and suffering ended. She went peacefully in her sleep. A wonderful wife,
mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, aunt and friend.
Family gathered two days before Betty passed away
and she was overjoyed to see them, especially the three youngest
great-grandchildren. She managed many smiles and blow them kisses.
She is survived by husband Russell, three adult
children, eleven grandchildren and ten great-grandchildren.
FM wishes to acknowledge the passing of one of our founders
dear friend Betty Aitcheson, the much loved wife of Russell.
went home to be with the Lord last Friday September 2nd aged 94 years.
back in 1984 it was Russell and Betty who read a newspaper
from Radio Rhema in Christchurch, New Zealand, asking ‘was there
in Newcastle, Australia who was interested in 100% Christian radio’.
and Russell were the only ones to respond. They went to New Zealand,
caught the vision and returned. A humble builder and his wife who knew
about radio, said yes to God. They started with nothing except God’s
and the rest became history as God unfolded step by step what then
known as Radio Rhema Newcastle and today 27 years on, their legacy
faith continues through Rhema Fm in the hearts and lives of all who listen.
at Rhema our heart goes out to Russell and his entire extended family
our debt of gratitude for all that Betty and Russell have done for us over
many long years. Betty will be sadly missed especially during our Rhemathon
each year when her and Russell would come and visit & support.
know we shall see Betty again in heaven & by now, Betty has heard her
words, “well done, good and faithful servant! You’ve been faithful with
few things; now I’ll put you in charge of many things. Come and share your
Rhema FM we’d ask that you keep Betty’s family in your prayers in particular
at this time as he misses his wife after 69 wonderful years of marriage.
Manager Rhema FM Newcastle 99.7
behalf of all our Rhema Fm board of directors, management, staff and