CARLSBAD — Mavis Lilian Bilbray-Clute, the mother of Congressman Brian Bilbray, passed away peacefully at her home in Carlsbad recently.
Bilbray-Clute was born in Sandgate, a suburb of Brisbane in Queensland, Australia, and grew up on the Booubyjan Station, a cattle ranch in Goomeri. Fascinated with tennis, she grew up and became the Queensland Mixed-Doubles Champion while attending the University of Brisbane where she attained a degree in accounting.
She met Hubert Patrick Bilbray, a chief warrant officer in the U.S. Navy, in 1943 shortly after the Battle of Brisbane. The two were married on March 11, 1943. Mavis made her way to America on the ship Lorelei, which was the first successful Pacific Ocean passage of any ship carrying Australian war brides.
The couple made their life in San Diego and had four children, Bill, Robert, Brian and Barry. Using her accounting degree, Bilbray-Clute opened Bilbray Tax Services in Imperial Beach, acted as the treasurer for the Imperial Beach Chamber of Commerce and taught her children how to play tennis. “She continued to best us in tennis well into her 60s,” Congressman Bilbray said.
“Mom made a real impression on us kids when it came to loving America,” Bilbray said. “She always considered herself an American from Australia, not an Australian-American.”
Widowed in 1968, she remarried in 1972 to Commander George S. Clute, who served as a Naval Aviator in World War Two. Commander Clute passed away in 1999. “She was always loving, and strong,” Congressman Bilbray said. “There’s no good way to prepare for the reality of losing your mom.”
Bilbray-Clute is survived by her sons and their spouses Bill and Carrie Bilbray, Robert and Susan Bilbray, Brian and Karen Bilbray, and Barry Bilbray, nine grandchildren and her longtime caregivers Lisa Hughes and Shelly Patton.