Also known as: Bernie
Date of passing: 08 December, 2017
Bernie died peacefully at home with his wife Linda at his side on Friday, 8 December 2017. He was 81 years young.
Bernie was the youngest son of Bill and Irene Willett. Bernie left school at 15 and began work supporting his father Bill in shearing sheds where he decided to take another path. He began a panel beating apprenticeship with Des Miller Panels in Yarrawonga.
His 63-year career included panel beating, a tow truck business, car sales, Castrol oil sales, and assessing insurance losses; he returned to education as a mature student to undertake TAFE teaching, continuing post-graduate studies at San Jose State University in California and finally returning to hand forming exclusively in aluminium.
Bernie fabricated people’s dreams. Taking the image in their heads to reality, he transformed flat sheet aluminium into the body parts of custom motorcycles. His work is known throughout the Australian motorcycle community and his products have ended up in many parts of the world.
Bernie supported people through their life challenges, spending equal time talking and listening. He relished any opportunity to repair or make something that solved someone’s problem.
A good time for Bernie was a cappuccino with morning or afternoon tea or a meal with family and friends. He loved turning event to adventure by following the road without a destination in mind. Favourite topics of discussion included recently read biographies, politics, Moto GP, stories from growing up in Yarrawonga, clients’ stories and life!
Bernie was a swimmer, skier, camper, canoeist, motorcyclist, hiker, host, reader, bicyclist, foodie, volunteer and tinkerer. For example, he had great fun completing a project that turned his mountain bike into a ‘motor bike’.
Bernie was a loving brother to Shirley (dec), Bruce (dec) and Douglas (dec). An uncle to Jan, Geoff, Jess and Adam, Travis, Lachlyne, Ronni, Lucas, Maria, Nathan, Dawn (dec), Tracy, David, Simon, Jacqui, Louis, James, Dani, William and John and grandfather of Matthew, Adam, Lauren-Kate and Mitchell.
The storyteller, builder of people’s dreams and humble genius is at peace.