Busselton community remembers picture framer David Orwin, 1941-2021

'A perfectionist at his craft': Geographe Gallery and Picture Framers owner Betsy Orwin with a photograph of the late, David Orwin. Photo: Pip Waller.
'A perfectionist at his craft': Geographe Gallery and Picture Framers owner Betsy Orwin with a photograph of the late, David Orwin. Photo: Pip Waller.

WHEN Betsy Orwin suggested to her husband David that they move to Busselton in the year 2000, he was hesitant.

The couple had just retired in Melbourne and were planning to spend time travelling in between visits to see their daughter Sue and her family who already lived in the South West town.

"Dave said, we're not going there, we might as well go to Bali because it's at the end of the earth", Betsy laughed.

"But because we were planning on doing some travelling, everything was already in storage and we'd sold our house so we decided to try it for three months.

"After only four weeks, Dave said 'bring the shipping container, we're staying here'."

Betsy said David had fallen in love with the town because of how "friendly and accepting" the community was.

David, who was a cabinet maker by trade with a "passion for framing", soon after purchased Geographe Gallery and Picture Framers in Busselton's Fig Tree Lane.

Alongside Betsy, the Orwin's have been running the store for over 20 years.

But this week, the community will be admiring their picture frames that little bit longer as they remember David, who sadly passed away earlier this month.

He was 80 years old.

Betsy said there would "hardly be a home in Busselton" that didn't feature one of David's frames.

She estimates in the last 20 years, the couple would have produced and sold around 40,000 frames.

"Everywhere Dave went, everyone knew him, and they'd say oh you've framed my such and such," Betsy said.

"He's framed bagpipes, all the art work at aged care residences, pictures at the Busselton council and around 30 odd football jumpers at Georgiana Molloy Anglican School.

"There was nothing David couldn't frame."

Betsy Orwin says all the stores in Fig Tree Lane arelike "one big family", with the framing shop being one of the longest serving.

Betsy Orwin says all the stores in Fig Tree Lane arelike "one big family", with the framing shop being one of the longest serving.

Having been married for 46 years, Betsy still remembers her first impressions of David when she first met him when they both worked for Shell Oil in Melbourne.

Whilst Betsy worked in the office, David drove the "big oil tankers" during a career change when he was taking a break from cabinet making.

"My first impression of Dave was that he was so shy because he didn't talk much," Betsy said.

"But he'd start coming into the office in between shifts and just chat, chat, chat and I'd say to the girls 'oh here he comes again'.

"We went to the pub for a drink and when I came back the girls asked how it went and I said I wasn't sure because he didn't say much so I talked the whole time.

"But that's just how he was - David was a bit quiet and reserved but he was his own person, honest and didn't put any faces on for anybody."

As the shop grew, Betsy said David began making the frames in Busselton's industrial area, which allowed her with a background in interior design to add her own flair to the shop.

She said she brought in extras to sell in the shop such as handbags and soap, "much to David's disgust".

"It was funny though because he used to come into the shop with more framing and a lady would come up to the counter and pop a handbag down to buy it," Betsy laughed.

"I'd say David I'm just going online to buy more handbags and he'd say no no no we're a picture framing shop, not a handbag shop.

"But in the end he was rapt because he was more comfortable around women than men because he wasn't great at making conversation and women generally are. So he would love that."

Betsy added that all the ladies from the Busselton Art Society "loved David".

She said they wouldn't always come to see Betsy at the shop because she would charge them for their frames.

So they went to see David at the workshop instead.

"They'd take him scones with jam and cream," Betsy laughed.

"So when he'd say 'oh I got this frame today' and I'd ask how much he charged for it, he'd say 'oh, well she brought me scones so I didn't charge her'.

David was a bit quiet and reserved, but he was his own person, honest and didn't put any faces on for anybody. I'm really going to miss him."

Betsy Orwin

"He was such a big part of the community and everyone loved him and he just adored his children and his grandchildren."

Betsy wants the community to know that despite David's passing, she would continue to be "at the helm" of the store.

"Gareth Trainer who helped David make the frames will be here, and I've got Lorraine and Wendy as a great support staff, so customers don't have to be worried," she said.

"People ask me when I'm going to retire and I say, 'when they put me in my box'. I just love it.

"And it reminds me of David, being here. I'm really going to miss him."

A service will be held to remember the David at 10am on Saturday, November 27 at the Bantry Chapel, Busselton Funeral Centre.

Celebrations will follow at the Busselton RSL.

Betsy said she planned to scatter David's ashes with the ashes of their 18-year-old poodle, Sam, who also passed earlier this year.

She wished to thank the staff at Busselton Hospice Care for their support of David who was a patient before he passed.