A man worth remembering

FORMER police sergeant Bill Black will be remembered as a good “old-fashioned copper” who protected the community for almost four decades. 

Mr Black was born in Dubbo on September 28, 1922 - his parents were Samuel Black and Loretta May Sloan. 

He spent his childhood growing up without electricity, an ice-chest rather than a fridge and access to only a party line telephone. 

In his youth steam engines ran on railways and many used horse and cart to get around. 

Mr Black was educated at St Patrick’s in Bathurst and enjoyed a big circle of friends at school. 

After completing school he worked for HC Prance as a dairy hand until he enlisted in the army during World War II. 

When the Japanese invaded Pearl Harbour in 1941 he was in training at the Cowra Army Camp.

In 1942 he was shipped to New Guinea where he was a gunner but he was said to be happy to be demobilised in 1945 after the idea of being a para-trooper had little appeal to him. 

Punishment for being absent without leave involved being put on duty at the Sydney Showground where he met the love of his life.

Shirley Green was a singer and dancer on stage and would often entertain the troops but as he was in the army at that stage they had to send letters to each other. 

When they were in the same town together he would catch a tram to Shirley’s place or they would go dancing or to the movies.

They married on September 30, 1945 at Five Dock, Sydney. 

Mr Black’s life in ‘the force’ began on November 19, 1945 at Bathurst with initial training at the Redfern police depot. 

He was firstly stationed at Balmain where he walked the beat for six weeks and then began training as a divisional motorcyclist.

In July 1948 he joined the forerunner of today’s highway patrol, the North Sydney Public Safety Bureau. 

Mr Black’s policing career took him on a trip around the state.

His proficiency on the motor bike led to transfers for special traffic patrols to Parramatta in 1950 and Dubbo in 1952.

Dubbo resident John Willing fondly remembered Mr Black being an integral part of the community.

“Many a story can be told of Blackie waiting outside the local picture theatre or dance hall to make sure we youngsters went straight home,” he said.

“Indeed he was known as our taxi.

“There was not a youngster out roaming the streets at night, like today, and lots of crime was nipped in the bud before it even started.” 

The Dubbo transfer took a toll on his physical health, in particular his back, so he accepted a transfer to Walgett as lockup keeper. 

His wife Shirley was also involved and kept busy cooking up to 70 meals each day for prisoners. 

Over the years there were more moves as a police officer.

Next was the idyllic coastal location of Brunswick Heads, a one-man station. 

In 1967 he came back to Dubbo for nine years, where he was promoted to Sergeant 1st Class, but eventually redeployed to Sydney.

He suffered only a few minor injuries in the course of duty  including cuts to the chin, broken teeth and stitches to the tongue. 

Mr Black moved into Dubbo’s St Mary’s Villa for extended respite care in 2011 and died on December 10, 2012. 

Mr Black is survived by his two children John and Jeanette, four grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

abanob.saad@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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