Every community has their characters and when Phyliss Halpin passed away on February 13 Cronulla lost another one of theirs.
Phyliss was 92 years young and although she was a quiet lady she impacted many and anybody walking past Cronulla Beach with a coffee in their hands in summer would remember her colourful manner.
She always loved the surf and was one of the first Adults to have a boogie board,carrying it under her arm as if it belonged and always resplendent with the brightest and frilliest swimming cap perched jauntily on her head as she wandered along the shore looking for the best waves.
Phyliss would surf for hours on the Cronulla Beach left handers ,often embarrassing her grandchildren ( and maybe even her children) with her unique surfing style, whenever they surfed together-and she certainly didn't like people dropping in on her waves.
People still describe the amazing parties she gave at her Cronulla home and her unconventional manner and quite dignity in which she held herself. She had a passion for style and colour and was famous for her exotic costumes, flowery sun hats, and frilly colourful bathing caps.
Born in Brisbane she spent many holidays at the sleepy fishing village of Coolangatta where she met her future husband Wallace Halpin OAM. They married 2 years later and settled in Sutherland Shire.
They had three children Michele, John and Melissa. All three children were involved in sporting activities particularly swimming. Phyliss loved Cronulla beach so it was natural for the family to join the Surf Club. She was a great support for husband Wallace who became a Cronulla SLSC Life Member with the work he did in the surf club and in their other sporting clubs and charities.
For Phyliss her family was very important. She had 9 grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren. She was always involved in their lives and there was a special bond that each shared with her. Although age made it more difficult for her to walk and surf, even in her early nineties Phyliss was determined to enjoy the beach.
Phyliss in her later life could be seen flanked by various family members,still with a stunning swimming cap on, as they helped her negotiate the waves sweeping onto the sand she loved. The great grandchildren swimming out to keep her company,always ensuring she was in safe hands.
Phyliss touched many lives and will always be remembered by the community in which she shared.