Colourful life celebrated

By Liz Mellino

Jillian Richards (Mather) will be remembered as a charismatic and joyful woman, with a positive nature and unconditional love for her children.

Family, friends and community members farewelled Ms Richards last month, celebrating her colourful life and dedication to the Goulburn Valley community.

Born in 1951, Ms Richards died on May 12, aged 66, following a short battle with emphysema.

She was a mother, sister, grandmother, great-grandmother, friend and well known ‘‘town run’’ bus driver for Jacobson Coach Tours.

She was a dearly loved mother to Brenden, Melissa, Julie, Brett and Luke, sister to Marlene and Debbie, grandmother to 10 children and great-grandmother to Scarlet.

Following her death, the community shared messages of support for the town larrikin who was known for being the smiling face that greeted passengers on the town bus service.

Jill with the 'apple of her eye', her great-granddaughter Scarlet.

Born in Hobart, Tasmania, Ms Richards made a move to Melbourne in her teens before settling in Shepparton.

Her career was wide and varied, working as a packer, telephonist, florist, furniture upholsterer and owner of the Mooroopna Laundromat before earning her heavy-rigid licence to make the transition into driving charter coaches.

After working for Phillips Transport in Cranbourne for nine years, she began working for Jacobson’s coaches in Mooroopna as a school bus driver.

A move then had her become the Mooroopna and Shepparton town run bus driver, a role that placed her in the hearts of the Goulburn Valley community.

‘‘Everyone grew to love and respect her, she was a friendly face that greeted everyone that hopped on the bus,’’ son Luke Commisso said.

‘‘She was very well known for her big heart, she would do anything for anyone.’’

Hundreds of community members farewelled Jill at her funeral last month.
Jill with some of her grandchildren.

Murchison’s Brandan Reilly travelled regularly as a student on the school bus Ms Richards drove, remembering many times her strong-willed personality came out in full force.

He said he would never forget the time she pulled the bus over on the side of the road and had a stern talking to the students on board who were playing up.

‘‘I don’t think I have ever experienced a more quiet ride than that day after she spoke with us,’’ he said.

‘‘She was an absolute legend, happy to have a chat with everyone and someone who always wanted to look back on the good times instead of reflecting on the bad.’’

Ms Richards was known for dedicating her time to looking after her children, taking one of her grandchildren into her full care while still working and three more upon retiring from the town run bus service.

Luke acknowledged her strong love, care and focus for the children in their family, saying she always managed to hold the family together through times of joy and despair.

Those who came in contact with Ms Richards described her as a die-hard Collingwood supporter, with a straight-shooting personality and love for gardening.

Jill with Frank, Melissa and Luke Commisso.

Following her death people took to Facebook to share their stories of the enigmatic and passionate community member who was known by many.

‘‘Jill was always one for saying hello, caring for the wider community and being there for all of her family,’’ Michelle Anne Bevan said.

‘‘She would always say it as she saw it, her kindness and generosity to her family and friends, always willing to help anyone in need and a mad Collingwood supporter through and through.’’

She was farewelled in a colourful celebration surrounded by hundreds of people who had been affected by her in some way during her lifetime.

She was remembered at her funeral by her family as someone who would leave a lasting impact on so many people with a heart of pure gold.

‘‘She was a person who loved her family and friends and she would do anything for them if it was within her power to do so,’’ Luke said.

‘‘She will be sadly missed by all who loved her, she was an angel in the shape of my mum.’’