Marea Loretto Fenner celebrated her 105th birthday yesterday with family, friends and staff from Hall & Prior’s Concorde Nursing Home in South Perth, which has been her home for the past five years.
Ms Fenner’s energy and love for life is inspiring to say the least. After being introduced to ballroom dancing in her late teens, Ms Fenner was still dancing up to three times a week until a couple of months before her 100th birthday in 2008.
“Marea has been with us since before she celebrated 100 years,” says Concorde’s Director of Nursing, Judith Davies. “She is just as feisty and mobile now that she has reached 105 as she was then,” Ms Davies laughs.
It’s a monumental achievement, and one that her family is proud of.
“She never drank alcohol, never smoked, never ate chocolate or lollies, and never became a couch potato,” says Ms Fenner’s son, Kevin, who attributes the secret to her long life to keeping busy, fit and healthy – and lots of cups of tea!
Ms Fenner (pictured having a hug with daughter, Denise Clancy) sadly lost her husband Stan after 65 years of marriage, but with five children, 11 grandchildren and four great grandchildren, her large family helped her to carry on and maintain her zest for life.
Born in Yarram, Victoria in 1908, Ms Fenner came from humble beginnings in the Australian bush and quickly rose to success after graduating from secretarial college in Melbourne and landing her first job at Reddan’s Tobacco Company at the age of 15.
She married her husband on Christmas Eve in 1938, and he left soon after to serve in New Guinea during World War II. When he returned, they travelled with three young children across the Nullarbor to Perth in an old Buick, where they rented a garage to live in before moving into a brick and tile war service home in South Perth.
In 1959, the family moved to Sydney where Marea managed the family business. They eventually moved back to Perth and, after Mr Fenner retired in the 1980s, they continued their travels. They journeyed around Australia and overseas, and spent months at a time prospecting for gold around Kalgoorlie.