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Rediscovering Ginninderra:
Mr James Rolfe

Born: 1876; Died: 1951; Married: Sarah [Cullen]

Obituary : Mr James Rolfe

After a very short illness, Mr. James Rolfe, of 'Illyria,' Boorowa, passed away very suddenly at the Orange Base Hospital on February 19th, at the age of 74 years. He was well known, had always moved in a wide variety of circles and his passing has deprived the district of yet another of its colorful personalities. He was born at 'Gold Creek,' Queanbeyan [sic], and was the son of the late Mr. and Mrs. Edmund Rolfe, and one of a pioneering family of fourteen, and spent most of his younger days there until the acquisition by the Commonwealth Government of his property for the Australian Capital Territory. He then moved to the Boorowa district in 1917 where he resided until his death.

His interests had always been focussed on the land and he was a particularly good judge of horses. In his younger days he had a very large measure of success with Show horses in South Australia and Tasmania as well as this State. The deceased was the father of nine children, two of whom pre-deceased him. He is survived by a sorrowing wife and seven children — three girls and four boys — Pauline (Sister M. Sylvia, Lewisham), Nell (Mrs. H. Scoins, Randwick), Mary (Mrs. J. Walshe, Canberra), Tom, Ted and John, of Boorowa, and Peter, of Glen Innes.

Requiem Mass was offered for the eternal repose of his soul by Father Casey, of Boorowa, on February 21st. The Mass was served by his sons, Ted and Peter, after which the remains were interred in the Catholic portion of the Boorowa cemetery. The funeral arrangements were in the hands of Patterson Bros. The large number of floral tributes along with the retinue of mourners in the funeral procession were of   sufficient magnitude to have denoted the passing of a highly esteemed personage. [Boorowa News, Friday 30 March 1951]

A few years after Jim Rolfe died, his widow Sarah and children left Booroowa to move to a new farm at Finley, near Deniliquin in NSW. The Rolfes had evidently made a very substantial contribution to the Booroowa community, as evidenced in the report of a farewell function:

Impressive Farewell To Rolfe Family - Tribute Paid By District's Organisations and Citizens

At a large and representative gathering, which assembled at the Boorowa Guild Hall, many expressions of respect and great friendship of Mrs. J. Rolfe. and family were made. Representatives of many of the district's organisations and friends had gathered to farewell the Rolfe family, of 'Illyria,' prior to their departure for Finley.

The guests of honor were escorted to the official table by the Deputy Shire President, Cr. J. P. McGrath, and Mr. and Mrs. T. A. Cusack as the assemblage sang 'For They Are Jolly Good Fellows.' Following the National Anthem, Cr. McGrath explained the purpose of the gathering and said he was present as a representative of the Boorowa Shire Council and on its behalf expressed sincere regret that Mrs. Rolfe and her family were departing from the district. 'They have been fine citizens. Mrs. Rolfe has been a worderful mother and her sons and daughters have been an example to the town and district — an example we can be justly proud of. 'I wish them every success in their new sphere,' concluded Cr. McGrath.

Losing warmest of friends

<i>Speaking on behalf of St. Patrick's Parish, Fr. E. E. Sheahan, said he 'profoundly regretted the departure of the Rolfe family from the Boorowa Parish. He continued, 'the late Mr. Jim Rolfe, head of the family who are leaving, was a very particular friend of mine, and a very staunch supporter of the Church. 'In losing the Rolfes I feel that I am losing the warmest of friends.' In conclusion, Arch-priest Sheehan wished the Rolfe family all the best in their new life and said he had every reason to believe they 'would carry on with equal success, prosperity and contentment in their new home as they did at 'Illyria.' Mr. T. A. Cusack (Country) stated that although he was delighted to be present, he sincerely regretted he was losing his greatest friends for many years.The family has been an example to the district in many ways,' he said.

Generosity remarkable

'Their generosity was remarkable and in public life and sporting life the boys were never lacking.' Mr. Cusack expressed his belief that when the Rolfe family settled at Finley they would be as popular as they had been at Boorowa. He wished them every success in their new venture. Mr. J. J. Denning (Rye Park) said he was very sorry to see the Rolfe family leaving the district where they were so highly respected. He added, 'They will be greatly missed and will be a great boost to Finley.

Excellent service

'As captain of the Bush Fire Brigade I know only too well the excellent service the Rolfe boys have rendered. 'They were ever ready to lend assistance and if given a job everyone knew that it would be satisfactorily done. On behalf of Mrs. Denning and myself I wish the guests every success and happiness in their new home.' Dr. J. S. Le Fevre, in endorsing the remarks of previous speakers, and speaking on behalf of Boorowa, said he was indeed very sorry to see Mrs. Rolfe and her family leaving the district, where they would be sadly missed by residents. 'I can only echo the sentiments of this representative gathering and say, 'au revoir' to such esteemed citizens whom I have known for 38 years and for whom I have the utmost respect,' he added.

Mr. G. T. Quilkey supported Dr. Le Fevre and added to the sentiments previously expressed. One of his first jobs in his profession, when he came to Boorowa, was to transfer the well-known 'Illyria' property to Mr. James Rolfe's sons 'who are known far and wide as the Rolfe Bros.' 'Mrs. Rolfe and her family are highly respected citizens, generous and beloved by all and Boorowa will be much the poorer for their departure,' said Mr. Quilkey.

Step in the right direction

'In Boorowa we consider this district one of the richest in the 'State, and we have known the Rolfe boys as keen men on the land. Knowing the many fine potentialities of the Finley district, I feel sure they have 'taken a step in the right direction. They have purchased one of the model farms of N.S.W., added Mr. Quilkey, who concluded by extending his best wishes to the family in their new sphere. President of the Boorowa Golf Club, Mr. Keith MacPherson, said it didn't give him any pleasure to bid farewell to the Rolfe family, as he was very sorry to see Mrs Rolfe and her sons leaving the district. 'The Rolfe boys have been members of the Golf Club and have proved good players and great sportsmen. On behalf of the Golf Club, myself and wife, I wish Mrs. Rolfe, the girls and boys of her family every good wish for a long life, health, wealth and prosperity in their new sphere,' conluded Mr. MacPherson.

Farwell from Tennis and cricket clubs

St. Patrick's Tennis Club President, Mr. C. K. Gorham, 'expressed the regrets of the 'club on the departure of the Rolfe family and added, 'I have never seen better sports on the court.' Mr. D. Percival of the Rye Park Cricket Club, expressed the club's wishes for a bright future for the Rolfe family and mentioned the fine and valuable parts played by the Rolfe brothers in Rye Park cricket. Mr. H. L. McDonald (Boorowa Federal Cricket Club) expressed the members' sincere regrets that Mrs. Rolfe and her family were leaving the district. 'Ted Rolfe was one of the mainstays of the club and a member of the unbeaten team the year Boorowa won the cricket premiership. 'He was and is a gentleman on and off the field,' added the speaker.

Presentation to Mrs Rolfe

Cr. J. P. McGrath said, 'It is with deep regret that we say farewell to the Rolfe family.' Cr. McGrath then presented to Mrs. Rolfe a beautiful tea and coffee service, 'as a token of friendship, respect and regret at your departure from your very many friends of Boorowa and district.' In Responding on behalf of his mother and family, Mr. Ted Rolfe said no words of his could express the true appreciation of the manner in which they had been honored that evening.

Efforts amply repaid

He added, 'Our relations in Boorowa have always been happy ones. For any efforts on our part we have been amply repaid. 'I thank one and all for the over-generous remarks and expressions of goodwill extended to us. 'I thank the organisers of this function for giving us an opportunity to thank the people of Boorowa for making our stay in Boorowa a happy one. Our thanks are also extended to the artists for their fine renditions. 'A cordial welcome awaits anyone from Boorowa who comes to Finley.' Mr. Rolfe concluded by thanking all for the presentation and the manifestations of the people. Vocal items were rendered by Messrs. Furner Dwyer and Jim Bonner, accompanied on the piano by Mrs. McGrath. Following a dainty supper, dancing was enjoyed.

[Boorowa News. Friday 15 October 1954]


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