For more than 50 years, Betty Paxton devoted her life to softball and the youth of Redcliffe, and her death on Saturday has prompted tributes from community leaders and many others who knew her as ‘Bet’ or ‘Aunty Betty’.
Mrs Paxton was 90 years old and had shared her love of softball with generations of players since she first picked up a bat in 1948.
She even celebrated her 90th birthday last November at the softball field, coaching her tee-ball team which included greatgrandchildren Dakota and Lawson.
Mrs Paxton’s daughters Maree Hockings and Kaye Wrigley said their mum and late father Andy left a strong imprint on their “family way of life”.
“This is demonstrated by the closeness of the family as signified by the want of her grandchildren and great-grandchildren to get together and still enjoy Christmas celebrations in our family home of 60 years,” Mrs Hockings said.
“The family is shocked by the sudden passing of Betty and she was much loved and will be missed by many.”
She is survived by her daughters, their husbands Nev and Tom, four grandchildren and their partners and six great-grandchildren.
With friend June Horne, Mrs Paxton brought softball to Redcliffe, starting at Redcliffe PCYC in 1966 with three teams that travelled to Downey Park in Brisbane every week.
“Some of those kids that I coached then – I’m now coaching their grandchildren,” she said during an interview for Moreton Life magazine in November.
Betty held a long list of positions with the Brisbane Softball Association, Redcliffe and Districts Softball Association, and Redcliffe PCYC during the past 57 years.
Her contribution to the sport and the youth of Redcliffe was recognised in 2000, when she received a Medal (OAM) in the General Division of the Order of Australia.
In the same year, the council named the softball grounds she and other tireless volunteers at the association lobbied to secure, The Betty Paxton Field.
In November, she was still coaching tee-ball, PCYC C grade and Bets Vets – the over 45s masters team.
Betty formed the team in 1991 and they competed at Masters Games events including the World, Asia Pacific (Pan Pacs), Australian and Queensland competitions.
It all started when her friend convinced her to join the Red Devils team which used to play at Spring Hill, as an 18-year-old.
That move put Betty on a path that would see her devote countless hours to coaching, administration, fundraising and have a hand in the development of players who would go on to represent their state and country.
And none of it would have been possible without the support of her late husband Andy.
While Betty was well-known for her service to softball, many remembered the couple from their time as the owners of Bay Boats and the 19 years they ran the kiosk at Scarborough.
They were days Betty remembered fondly.
Redcliffe PCYC Softball President David McDonald said she was the heart, soul and backbone of the Redcliffe PCYC and Redcliffe Softball.
“She always greeted you with a smile, kiss and a ‘hello love!’,” Mr McDonald said.
“Known to many as Aunty Betty, she has touched many of lives over the years. Betty has coached and been a part of this club for so long she has been a part of three generations of some people’s families. We mourn her but she will be forever intertwined in the fabric of our softball community.”
Mayor Peter Flannery said she was a giant amongst men.
“Betty is a legend in every sense of the word, as pioneering sports woman, as a community champion, as an inspiration to young girls,” he said.
“Her legend will live on and fortunately so will her name, given the Redcliffe PCYC fields are named in her honour. The Moreton Bay Region is richer for the fact that Betty Paxton OAM decided to call this place home, vale.”
Former councillor James Houghton said Mrs Paxton was an icon and he felt lucky to have known her for about 50 years.
“Hers was a lifetime of service in the community and business, particularly the community,” Mr Houghton said.
“If we didn’t have Betty, we wouldn’t have the PCYC as we have it now, or softball as we have it today. She was a lovely lady and I offer my heartfelt condolences to her family.”
Former Redcliffe PCYC Chairman Noel Powell said she was the longest-serving volunteer at any PCYC in Queensland.
“Her contribution to the community and always pestering me to get more done for youth was unrelenting,” he said.
Mr Powell said the impact she had on this community would be felt for generations to come.
Redcliffe Leagues Softball Association President Carrie Te Wani said: “Betty was an amazing woman
and without her softball at Redcliffe would not have existed. I know she loved the place dearly and in turn she was loved by all.
“There are generations of softball players who will remember her fondly and even now personal memories of how she affected so many lives flow through multiple association and organisation social media pages.
“These are the things that I wish she was able to see so that she knew how big her impact was on so many people and how deeply she was respected a loved, but I am glad that her family and friends are able to witness this.
“She was a true pioneer of women in sport and a dedicated member of the community. We will all miss her beautiful smile and things, particularly here at Redcliffe, the association she founded and loved, will never quite feel the same.”