HAPPY BIRTHDAY: Jean King celebrated her one hundredth birthday on Monday.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY: Jean King celebrated her one hundredth birthday on Monday. Andrew Messenger

A hundred years young

JEAN King was born at the tail end of the Victorian era.

And when searching for adjectives to describe her “Victorian” leapt to the mind of Ray Lynch.

“Very strict, prim and proper,” he said.

“She was a very loving grandmother. If we went out (to Charleville) on school holiday, we’d be back to school again.”

The former governess never gave up her passion for education.

It was a little over a century ago, at the height of WWI that Mrs Jean Whitford was born. A citizen of New South Wales, she called Canowindra home before moving off the Charleville.

On Monday at the Waroona Nursing Home, her friends and family celebrated the century anniversary of that event. All the accoutrements were there; everything from a letter from the Queen to one from the Governor General.

Sadly, many residents at Waroona were attending the funeral of the previous mother of Charleville, Alice White. She turned 100 earlier this year. After her passing, Jean has become the oldest woman in town.

But a number of family travelled from as far as the coast – one even from Ukraine.

Julia Lesiv is due to marry into the clan in August this year.

Jean married cockie Herb King. They had two kids in the 30s, and 20 grand and great-grandchildren

“(Herb) was one of the last original cowboys in this area,” Ray said.

Totally uneducated in any formal way, Herb went from station to station working as a manager or stock hand on a thousand jobs. It would have been a hard life, moving from place to place.

“(The pair) had been on the land all their lives,” Ray said.

In 1979, the couple finally retired to Charleville.

He once provided help to Russian labourers working on the rail line to Quilpie.

The Russians wore wooden clogs in the hot weather and blistered terribly.

Vera Moore is the other very experienced lady of Charleville. She will turn 100 in September. But Jean has a few months on her.

A staff member approached Jean after photos and wished her happy birthday.

“How old are you?” she said.

“One hundred,” Jean said.

“Still young,” replied the staff member.


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