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Shylie Katharine Rymill (1882–1959)

by Joyce Gibberd

This article was published:

This is a shared entry with Henry Way Rymill

Shylie Katharine Rymill (1882-1959), Girl Guide commissioner, and Henry Way Rymill (1907-1971), Boy Scout commissioner, were mother and son. Shylie was born on 16 May 1882 at Strathalbyn, South Australia, youngest of four children and only daughter of William Archibald Sinclair Blue (d.1896), an English-born physician and surgeon, and his wife Katharine Gollan, née Gordon, who came from Scotland. In 1898 her mother married (Sir) Samuel Way. Shylie may have attended schools at Strathalbyn, Semaphore and Hahndorf, country towns in which her father practised, before completing her education at Dryburgh House School, Hackney, Adelaide. A vivacious and beautiful débutante, she became a fun-loving member of society and a successful charity worker. On 18 September 1906 at Christ Church, North Adelaide, she married with Anglican rites Herbert Lockett ('Cargie') Rymill (d.1951), a golf-course designer.

In 1913 Mrs Rymill won the South Australian women's golf championship. She was associate-captain (1915, 1923 and 1933-34) of the (Royal) Adelaide Golf Club and founding president (1925-30) of the South Australian Ladies' Golf Union. Ladies' captain (1924-28 and 1932) at Kooyonga Golf Club, she won its women's championship in 1925, 1927 and 1928. Her husband had helped to design and build new courses for the A.G.C. at Seaton (1906) and for the Kooyonga Golf Club at Lockleys (1923).

Mrs Rymill was president of the local committee of the Richmond company of the Girl Guides' Association of South Australia in 1927 and commissioner, Western Metropolitan Division, in 1931. As State commissioner from 1938 to 1950, she was involved in organizing the Girl Guides' Thrift Campaign, which raised almost £72,000 for charities during World War II. She was appointed O.B.E. in 1942. Six years later she was awarded the guiding movement's highest honour, the Silver Fish. A generous woman with a sense of humour, she continued to be involved in the Girl Guides' Association after 1950 as a life member of the State council. She died on 3 April 1959 at Thorngate and was buried in North Road cemetery, Nailsworth; her daughter and three sons survived her.

Her eldest son Henry was born on 9 October 1907 in North Adelaide and educated at the Collegiate School of St Peter. Its headmaster K. J. F. Bickersteth reported that he had 'talents, but not those useful for school lessons'. Joining the Boy Scouts in 1922, Rymill was elected patrol leader of the 2nd St Peter's College troop. He attended the Imperial (1924) and 'Coming of Age' (1929) jamborees in England. In 1924 he began work as a clerk in the dispatch department of Holden's Motor Body Builders Ltd; by 1935 he was production manager. At St Peter's College chapel on 26 September 1934 he married Alleyne Joan Downer (d.1942) with Anglican rites.

After serving as a Boy Scouts' Association commissioner (from 1930) and Rover commissioner (from 1932), Rymill was appointed South Australian chief commissioner of scouts in 1936. That year he was camp chief at the centenary 'corroboree', held at Belair National Park, Adelaide. While in England on business in 1943, he received the Boy Scouts' highest award, the Silver Wolf. In 1949 he was appointed C.B.E. A governor (1942-71) of St Peter's College and a council member (1950-71) of St Mark's College, University of Adelaide, he was also commodore (1950-54 and 1957-59) of the Royal South Australian Yacht Squadron. He married Barbara Murray Randell on 22 September 1967 at the Church of the Epiphany, Crafers. In 1968 he was named South Australia's 'father of the year' for his dedication to scouting. He retired from General Motors-Holden's Pty Ltd in the following year.

Rymill collapsed at Leppington, New South Wales, while attending his ninth Australian Scout jamboree as chief commissioner, and died of myocardial infarction on 8 January 1971 at Liverpool District Hospital. Survived by his wife, and by the son and two daughters of his first marriage, he was buried in North Road cemetery, Nailsworth. His estate was sworn for probate at $183,823. A big, genial man, he was remembered for his wit and sense of fun, and for the launching of Rymill 'rockets' at special scouting occasions. The Rymill training centre for scout leaders, at Woodhouse, Stirling, was named (1973) after him.

Select Bibliography

  • V. M. Branson, Kooyonga, 1923-1983 (Adel, 1983)
  • M. Cudmore, The Royal Adelaide Golf Club, 1892-1992 (Adel, 1992)
  • South Australia Scout Leader, Jan/Feb 1971
  • Advertiser (Adelaide), 2 Apr 1936, 6 Apr 1959, 19 Aug 1968, 9 Jan 1971
  • Sunday Mail (Adelaide), 5 May 1974
  • Girl Guides' Association of South Australia, Annual Report, 1927-59 (State Library of South Australia)
  • St Peter's College Archives (Adelaide)
  • private information.

Citation details

Joyce Gibberd, 'Rymill, Shylie Katharine (1882–1959)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 2002, accessed online 19 May 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 16, (Melbourne University Press), 2002

View the front pages for Volume 16

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

Life Summary [details]

Alternative Names
  • Blue, Shylie Katharine

16 May, 1882
Strathalbyn, South Australia, Australia


3 April, 1959 (aged 76)
Thorngate, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia

Cultural Heritage

Includes subject's nationality; their parents' nationality; the countries in which they spent a significant part of their childhood, and their self-identity.