Community & Business

5 October, 2023

Celebrating a century of Don

A MAREEBA man has celebrated a major milestone, turning 100 years old last month surrounded by his loving family and friends.

Celebrating a century of Don - feature photo

Donald Herbert Emerson was born on 3 September 1923, on Merragallen Road outside Malanda on his aunty Elizabeth Soley’s farm to Beatrice Curry and James Emerson.

He was one of 13 siblings, being the seventh child among 10 boys and 3 girls.

Growing up in a rural setting, Don attended school at Jaggan and Tarzali, where the use of slate, chalk, and ink in exercise books was the norm. 

The daily trek to school through the untouched Tablelands was a stark contrast to the modern conveniences he said he knows today.

Recalling his mischievous school days, Don remembers wagging school with his brothers, a venture that didn't go unnoticed by his father. 

The consequence, a stern lesson reinforced by writing "I must not play miss truant" a thousand times, etched in his memory.

At the young age of 14, on his birthday, Don left school to help support his family. 

His first job was at Battles Butchery in Malanda, delivering meat parcels around town on a push-bike and earning  only a pound for 44 hours of work each week, including a half day on Saturday.

Don's life took various turns, from working in the post office delivering telegrams to laborious jobs in quarries and farms. 

He weathered challenges, including his involvement in a business partnership that ended in voluntary bankruptcy, but emerged resilient and persevering.

A significant highlight of Don's life was meeting the love of his life, Violet, and embarking on a journey together, which led them to Croydon, where they purchased a farm and raised cattle.

Looking back, he recalled his days with Violet in Croydon as “a time of fulfilment and happiness”.

Throughout his remarkable life, Don emphasised the importance of hard work, regular exercise, and a diet rich in fresh, unprocessed foods. 

He firmly believed these practices have contributed to his enduring good health. As he marks his 100th birthday, he imparts valuable advice to the younger generation.

“Plenty of exercise, don't eat rubbish, and cook your own food,” he said.



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