Memories from a century

An Even Hundred: Dorothy in the garden of the Gwen Warmington Lodge, which she loves for the support of everyone there. Photo: Zac Lowe.
An Even Hundred: Dorothy in the garden of the Gwen Warmington Lodge, which she loves for the support of everyone there. Photo: Zac Lowe.

Yass resident Dorothy Honner will reach a special milestone on Friday, as she prepares to celebrate her hundredth birthday. 

Born on October 13, 1917, in Yorketown, Dorothy spent much of her life in South Australia, before moving to Yass about 30 years ago. 

In a family with nine children, Dorothy has outlived her four younger siblings, and described the feeling of reaching 100 years of age as “strange, really.” 

She also lost her husband Gerald in 1983, who she met “perhaps two, three years before the war [WWII] began”, and married in 1946 after a brief courtship. 

Although they knew of each other prior to the war, Dorothy and Gerald’s correspondence began quite by chance. 

According to Dorothy, it was expected that she work as a young woman, so she found a job as a receptionist at a hotel in Adelaide in the early years of the war. 

“One day, my husband-to-be’s father came in to book in at the hotel to stay in Adelaide,” she said. 

“He wrote and told my husband I suppose all the things he’d done and also that … he’d seen me, and then he [Gerald] started writing to me.” 

I would never, could never, forget the first person we heard from our district having been killed in action.

Dorothy Honner, centenarian

Gerald proposed soon after the war ended and he had returned to Australia, and at first Dorothy was hesitant.

“When he asked me to marry him I though ‘I’d better be careful’,” Dorothy said, while chuckling fondly over memories of her husband. 

“[Can’t] rush into anything like this.”  

Despite her initial reservations, Dorothy ranked her marriage and her children as the two aspects of her life she remembers with the most affection. 

“Well, marriage was wonderful,” she said. 

“We didn’t have any problems with any of the children or anything, good health and so on.” 

While her married life was content and peaceful, Dorothy couldn’t help but to recall the impact that WWII had on her generation. 

“In our age group, it was a case of all of us experiencing much the same kind of thing. 

“I would never, could never, forget the first person we heard from our district having been killed in action. 

“It’s such an awful thing … he was a very nice person, [and] a very well-known one.

“You never forget anything about them.” 

In fact, Dorothy stated that one of her greatest regrets was throwing out two letters that she got from English prisoners of war in Germany. 

“After a while, it ceased to have that importance about it, in a way,” she explained. “I would have liked to have known what happened to them.”

Dorothy’s first contact with the prisoners was through her knitting club, which she and some friends started to send homemade garments to soldiers during the war. 

“We thought we should get ourselves a name,” Dorothy said. “So we called ourselves the Knitwit Club, [and] made sure everyone knew it had a ‘K’ in it.”

Dorothy has four children and 12 grandchildren.