LONG LIFE & HAPPINESS-A century on Earth: Centenarians share stories of life, love and lasting memories

These are the stories of a number of happy over 100 years of age people who have reached that magic milestone of 100years on this earth. Something must be going right for them…Read on..>

Joanna Barrett, 101


The happiest time of my life was when I got married to my husband. We met at a party. We did lots of lovely things together – we went scuba diving, we went riding on scooters and in motor cars and on horseback. I like going fast.

Joanna Barrett pictured scuba diving.


Joanna Barrett was born and raised in Glenelg, Adelaide. As a girl she enjoyed swimming and tennis. She met her husband Roderick at a party during one of his trips to South Australia from Melbourne for a motor race. They married in 1937 and moved to the Melbourne suburb of Hawthorn and Joanna became a mother during the war. Joanna volunteered by knitting socks and clothing for soldiers. She has always had a love for music, theatre and travel.

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Margaret McGeown, 100


I worked in Queen’s University in the Great Hall and we served the Queen, she had her lunch there. It was wonderful. I can’t explain it. We talked about it for hours after it. I couldn’t tell you what we served her.

Margaret McGeown pitcured with her husband, Bertie, while living in Northern Ireland.


Margaret McGeown was born in Northern Ireland in June 1915. As a young woman, her favourite thing to do was bake. She was 25 when she married her husband, Bertie, who worked on the Titanic in the Harland and Wolff shipyard in Belfast. They had four children and moved to Australia in the early 1970s. Only a couple of years later Bertie passed away suddenly from a heart condition. Margaret was born into a devout Protestant family and continues to go to church every Sunday. She said eating a banana every morning was one of her secrets to a long life.

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Millie Andrews, 100


The most successful moment of my life was getting the OAM medal, it was recognising my work done for children with disabilities. I got that on my 100th birthday.

Millie Andrews (centre) with children at Scope Chislon Centre.


Mildred Andrews was born in the Melbourne suburb of Williamstown and lived there for 90 years. As a young woman she began working in the woollen mill in Yarraville, where she made the two-hour round trip on foot to and from work every day. During the war she made khaki for the soldiers while her husband Jack served in the Navy. After having her daughter Susan, she began helping a friend look after her baby who had cerebral palsy. What started with one baby soon turned into eight, and commenced more than 30 years of tireless volunteer work and fundraising for the organisation she founded, Scope Chislon Centre, formerly known as the Footscray Spastic Children’s Centre. She was awarded an Order of Australia medal from Governor General Peter Cosgrove this year. She said she felt blessed to be alive at 100.

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Ron Bennett, 102


I was mad about my wife. I first saw her on the tram and my heart was racing. She was beautiful. She and her twin sister used to pose for Myer. We used to sit in the back seat of the car and cuddle for hours.

Ron Bennett pictured with his wife Isabelle on their honeymoon at Lorne, Victoria.


Ron Bennett grew up in the Melbourne suburb of St Kilda and was one of six boys. Ron served in the Second World War in Egypt, Syria, Lebanon and Greece with the 2/5 Battalion, marrying his wife Isabelle while he returned to Australia on leave. They had four children and lived in Ringwood, Gippsland, Sorrento and later in Brighton. After the war Ron went on to work in the wool and clothing industry as a tax agent, and then went on to help run his family’s tea and coffee business until the age of 90. His wife Isabelle passed away three years ago at the age of 93. He puts his longevity down to only mildly drinking and no smoking.

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Florence Smith, 100


My happiest moment in life was when they told me in St Vincent’s Hospital that I was able to go home after about eight weeks of near-death. I had pneumonia and pleurisy, I had an abscess in the lung. I was only in my 20s, and here I am in my hundreds.

Florence Smith

Florence Smith grew up in the gold mining town of Gaffneys Creek, near Victoria’s alpine region. She moved to Melbourne as a teenager to live with an aunty and began working in a fruit shop and enjoyed going to dances. She then started working as a cleaner and waitress in various hotels and guest houses. At the age of 20 she married her husband and had three children, setting up their family home in Coburg where she has lived for most of her life. She said staying away from alcohol was the biggest lesson life had taught her.

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Mabel Handasyde, 100


I wouldn’t change anything. I don’t think I’d do anything that I didn’t do, I don’t think I did anything that I shouldn’t have done. If I died tonight, I’d be satisfied.

A young portrait of Mabel Handasyde that was a gift to her husband.


Mabel Handasyde grew up in Mount Evelyn, north-east of Melbourne, before moving to the city as a teenager. Knitting and dancing were her favourite things to do when she was a young woman. She worked at Harbig’s flower factory in Hawthorn for 40 years, where she arranged flowers. It was there that she met her husband Frederick, who she married in 1939. She said good living and good food had kept her g

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Roy Pedder, 100


The most successful moment of my life was the day I started my suspension business. While we struggled to eat in the first few years, it gradually got bigger and bigger and bigger and we became quite famous. I was 93 or 94 when I finished up.

Roy Pedder pictured third from left with his brothers in country Victoria.


Roy Pedder grew up in Piangil in country Victoria where his father sank dams for soldier settlers. They later moved to near Mildura to farm wheat. After the family lost the farm, Roy, then in his early 20s, and his brother travelled across Victoria on their push bikes, working in fruit picking and mail boat delivery. They then snuck onto The Ghan and headed to the Northern Territory, where Roy worked in gold mining and on the rails. He was in Tennant Creek when the war broke

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Stella Shaw, 100


Once I no longer had a husband, I was rushed by a number of men who felt that I was going to need their services, and I didn’t fancy any of them. I had only ever really known one man, Chester. He was my one love and he was wonderful.

Stella Shaw pictured with her husband on their wedding day.


Born in Bondi, Stella’s father Harry Thompson was a cycling champion and master builder. During the Great Depression, Stella was pulled out of boarding school because her father’s family building business was almost sent broke, and in the meantime they survived by farming chooks. In her teens and early 20s, Stella travelled the world and saw Mussolini speak in Rome. She was in England helping to assemble gas masks when the radio announcement declaring war

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Jean Forster, 101


I loved to dance. My brother and I used to love going to the football and we had a penny to spend. I had a lovely life. I don’t worry about anything, what’s the use in worrying? It doesn’t get you anywhere.

Jean Forster in Sydney, 1941.

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Born in Carlton, one of seven children, Jean had a twin brother named Eric and had another set of twins amongst her siblings. A mad supporter of Essendon Football Club, she went to school with club legend Dick Reynolds. She went on to work as a dress maker and had one child with her first husband. She later married her second husband, Reg, and had another three children, setting up their family home in Ormond. When Reg retired they travelled the world together.
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Henry Sapiecha

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