Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Naomi Wolinski (1881–1969)

by Louella McCarthy

This article was published:

Naomi Wolinski (1881-1969), lawn bowls champion and administrator, was born on 26 March 1881 at Sandhurst (Bendigo), Victoria, eighth of twelve children of Solomon Herman, accountant, and his London-born wife Elizabeth, née Oxlade. Solomon had migrated to Victoria in 1864 from Konin, Poland. The family moved to Perth in 1894. There, at the Synagogue, on 1 July 1903 Naomi married Ury Wolinski (d.1963), a Polish-born civil servant; their only son was born in 1904. In 1910 they moved to Sydney. Soon after the death of her infant daughter in 1911, Naomi, confined to bed with sand-bag weights to correct spine damage, went back to Perth for eighteen months to be nursed by her family. After she returned to Sydney, the Wolinskis settled at Neutral Bay.

Ury, a member of North Sydney Bowling Club, won his first club championship in 1917. When Naomi took up the game in the late 1920s she played at Wollstonecraft Bowling Club. She was a founder (1930), inaugural vice-president, honorary secretary (1931-32), president (1933-58) and life-member (1938) of the New South Wales Ladies' (Women's) Bowling Association. Under her leadership the association rapidly expanded; by 1957 it had affiliated 261 women's clubs with some 12,000 members. She travelled widely to attend the openings of many new clubs and to organize a zone structure for inter-club play and district championships. A founder of the association's journal, (Women's) Bowls News, she chaired (1949-58) its editorial committee.

Mrs Wolinski was an ardent patriot, and an even more ardent organizer. In 1940 she had served on a panel to further the sale of war savings certificates. She was a justice of the peace from 1941 and later a warden with first-aid qualifications under the National Emergency Services. As an executive-member of the Lord Mayor's Patriotic and War Fund of New South Wales (Australian Comforts Fund) from 1942, she organized a band of women bowlers to produce items of clothing for the armed services overseas; her group made over 65,000 garments and raised thousands of pounds to provide comforts for servicemen and women.

In 1946 the N.S.W.W.B.A. subscribed for the Wolinski Shield, to be competed for annually by affiliated clubs; entrance fees were given to charity. In 1947 Mrs Wolinski was elected foundation president of the Australian Women's Bowling Council; she remained New South Wales delegate until she retired in 1958. She was a vice-president (1938-50) and president (1950-64) of the National Council of Amateur Sports Women of New South Wales. In 1950, with Dr Marie Hamilton and the journalist Ruth Preddy, she persuaded the secretary for lands to provide grounds dedicated to women's sport: 20 acres (8 ha) at Matraville and 30 acres (12 ha) at Terrey Hills were gazetted 'as a memorial to women of the services and women war workers'.

'Wol', as she was known, was an enthusiastic and talented lawn bowler who had won twelve club championships and four interstate 'Test Matches' (1947, 1954, 1955 and 1958). For many years she taught bowls to women patients at Parramatta Mental Hospital. In 1953 she was awarded Queen Elizabeth II's coronation medal and in 1960 was appointed M.B.E. Survived by her son, she died on 14 September 1969 at Mosman, and was cremated with Jewish rites.

Select Bibliography

  • Bowls News (Sydney), Oct 1969, p 20
  • Sydney Morning Herald, 2 Apr 1936, 1 Jan 1960
  • Sunday Mirror (Sydney), 8 Feb 1959
  • New South Wales Women's Bowling Association Archives, Sydney
  • Honours, A463, item 1958/2218 (National Archives of Australia)
  • private information.

Citation details

Louella McCarthy, 'Wolinski, Naomi (1881–1969)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 2002, accessed online 21 April 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]


26 March, 1881
Bendigo, Victoria, Australia


14 September, 1969 (aged 88)
Mosman, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

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