Burnie Brae’s newest centenarian – Verna turns 100!

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The old adage ‘a good life is a collection of happy moments’ certainly rings true for Burnie Brae client Verna Spicer, who turns 100 on the 14th January.

“I never thought I’d get to this age,” Verna says as she reflects on the last 100 years of her long and very full life.

Her parents were graziers and had a sheep station in the rural town of Texas in Queensland, where Verna grew up. She talks about her love of animals, the outdoors and nature.

“I always had a pet. Sometimes there would be a sheep that had twins and she couldn’t look after them. My dad would often bring a lamb home for me to look after.”

Verna also has fond memories of her beloved ‘Playboy’, a beautiful jet black ex-racehorse.

“When dad and mum married and moved onto the farm, he was already there and was part of the farm. I used to ride him everywhere.”

But her life on the farm was also marked with sadness and loss at times too. She lost a baby sister at 18 days old because she had a hole in the heart. Sadly, at the young age of 11 Verna also lost her father.

Because there were no schools in Texas, Verna reluctantly left the farm to go to boarding school in Warwick. “I hated boarding school” she reflects.

After school was behind her and feeling keen to get back to farm life, Verna went back to Texas to work on a dairy farm. “I was there until I was about 18, and by then my mother had moved away to Newcastle, so I went down there, and that’s where I met my husband.”

“The war was on at that time, so I got a job in Newcastle working in a munitions factory, making pilot lights for the aeroplanes. I worked there until I was married.”

Throughout her long life, Verna has travelled extensively around Australia and overseas, she’s lived in various places around Australia from big cities to small country towns, and started again after her home in Bardon went completely underwater during Brisbane’s 1974 floods.

Verna has always been surrounded by music, with every member of her family playing an instrument.

“My dad was musical and he used to play the button accordion and play for all the country dances out around Texas. Music was in the family. My husband played the guitar and I played the piano.”

Verna’s children were also all musicians and had their own band.

“Graham used to play the accordion and was only 11 when he became the Queensland champion. At 16 he won a trip to Honolulu in the 4KQ talent quest. Because he was so young, he was able to trade in a first-class ticket for two second class tickets and I went with him.”

Verna also loves her sports. She played tennis up until the age of 80 and fixtures until she was 70. She loves to watch the cricket and may well be the Broncos oldest fan.

On her bucket list is her wish to go to a North Queensland Cowboys game. She made the trip up to Townsville on the train to see them play when she was 97, but she would love to go back to see them play in the new Queensland Country Bank Stadium.

These days, Verna is surrounded by plenty of loving family members – with four generations living under the one roof. Verna has four children (including a set of twins), nine grandchildren and now 14 great-grandchildren.

Verna’s secret to living a long life is walking and a nip of brandy every night. “I’ve walked a million miles I reckon” she says.

Verna celebrated her 100th birthday with family at the Pine Rivers Bowls Club. She was joined by most of her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, as well as some of her nieces and nephews she hadn’t seen in years.

All the team at Burnie Brae would like to wish Verna a very happy birthday.

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