Vale: Dorothy Roche OAM

by Lachlan Williams

Bowls Australia was saddened to hear of the recent passing of Hall of Fame inductee Dorothy Roche OAM.

Roche was one of the most decorated players in Australian bowls history, with multiple international accolades to her name.

Australian cap number 27, Roche represented the green and gold between 1985 and 1993 at several international events including World Championships, Commonwealth Games and Asia Pacific Games.

A three-time World Champion (Melbourne 1985 fours, Auckland 1988 triples & fours) and skip of the 1990 Commonwealth Games gold medal fours lineup, Roche’s record matches up against the best on the world stage.

1990 Commonwealth Games Fours Gold Medallists Marion Stevens, Daphne Shaw, Audrey Rutherford and Dorothy Roche

Dorothy became Australia’s oldest gold medal winner with her success at the 1990 Auckland Commonwealth Games at the age of 61 years and 10 months.

A late-comer to the sport, Dorothy was nearly 50 before taking up competitive bowls in 1975.

In 1979, she won the Champion of Champions singles competition and the Alfa Romeo Sport-Star of the Year, while a round-robin match in 1984 where she and Merle Richardson defeated the sport’s leading male players, including world champion David Bryant, ranking high among her personal achievements.

Testament to her exceptional consistency throughout her career, Roche won a state-level game every year.

Following on from her Commonwealth Games success, in 1990 she was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia for services to lawn bowls.

Roche not only dominated at international level, but also enjoyed plenty of success nationally, state-wide in NSW and at her club, Club Merrylands.

In 2015, Roche was inducted into the Bowls Australia Hall of Fame (1975-99 Athlete section) for her outstanding contributions to Australian bowls.

Dorothy Roche speaks at her Hall of Fame induction in 2015

In her nomination for the Hall of Fame, Val Smith described Roche as an ‘inspiration’ and many believe she is the ‘finest female lawn bowler Australia has ever produced’.

“Her achievements could only come from a great level of commitment, passion, hard work and
determination, displayed over the many years which would inspire both her peers and any up-and­ coming bowlers,” the nomination read.

Dorothy passed away on November 11, 2021, aged 93.

Dorothy’s funeral will be at Hillside Chapel on Thursday, November 18 from 1:30pm and live streamed through Creighton’s Funeral Services.

Bowls Australia extends its sympathies to Dorothy’s family and friends.