ALL SMILES: Maryborough's Olive Williams with a birthday cake celebrating her 103rd birthday.
ALL SMILES: Maryborough's Olive Williams with a birthday cake celebrating her 103rd birthday. Contributed

STORY OF: The Maryborough romance that lasted a lifetime

IT HAS been decades since Olive Williams held her husband's hand as he slipped away in a Maryborough hospital bed.

When she speaks of him, though, her eyes still sparkle.

Olive celebrated turning 103 this week in the Pallas St house she has called home for the past 80 years.

It was the home she and husband Robert, affectionately known as Bob, moved into after they were married on June 2, 1939.

It is the home where they raised their three children, Wendy, Dale and Brian.

Olive Williams with her husband Robert and their three children, Wendy, Brian and Dale.
Olive Williams with her husband Robert and their three children, Wendy, Brian and Dale. Contributed

Olive remembers, with a cheeky grin, the night she met her husband.

She was living in Granville and there was a dance every week.

One night she arrived with her sister and spotted a good-looking young man from across the room.

She reckons it was love at first sight.

He had wavy hair, handsome features and he asked her to dance.

From then on, Olive and Bob were inseparable.

She'd had far from an easy life growing up.

Born in Gayndah, Olive was seven when her mum died of complications during a pregnancy.

Her family moved to Monto and then at 18 she arrived in Granville, where she noticed everyone was riding bikes.

She'd never ridden a bike before, but she was keen to try.

She was a neighbour to one of Maryborough's best-known personalities, Moira O'Sullivan, who would later become Moira Hansen when she married Brendan Hansen, who served as the member for Wide Bay from 1977 to 1983.

Quite often Olive would be called upon to give Moira a ride on her bike to get her to school.

She admits she wasn't terribly skilled in those early days of riding and when they went up a hill, both girls would have to get off and walk.

The gorgeous Olive Williams when she was a young woman.
The gorgeous Olive Williams when she was a young woman. Contributed

Olive, then working as a seamstress, and Bob exchanged vows at St Paul's Anglican Church.

Olive had grown up in the Church of England, but she knew her husband wasn't entirely happy with the location of their wedding.

A devoted Catholic, he would have preferred being wed at St Mary's.

Olive knew her husband was passionate about his religion and decided to follow the Catholic tradition herself.

She vowed when they had children, they would also be raised in the Catholic religion and she kept that promise.

Bob worked at the Wilson Hart Sawmill, which stood where the Brolga Theatre stands now, for many decades.

At 64, just as he was getting ready to retire, Bob was diagnosed with prostate cancer.

Olive was told he had nine months to live, but she asked the doctors not to tell Bob so he wouldn't give up.

As he grew sicker, Bob was taken to Maryborough's private hospital.

There, Olive's decision to follow the Catholic faith helped give her husband comfort in his final weeks.

She would recite the rosary to him every day.

Olive Williams, maiden name Davies, in her younger years.
Olive Williams, maiden name Davies, in her younger years. Contributed

In 1973 Olive won her first Teams Championship, and has been a member of 16 winning teams.

Over the years she has played in congresses at Canberra, Gold Coast, Rockhampton, Sydney and in Western Australia, to name a few.

 

Playing bridge has kept her mind active but at the end of last year, as her eyesight began to fail, she had to stop playing.

When she turned 101, she had some advice for the Chronicle on what had kept her going so long. It was a simple formula of three Fs - family, friends and faith.

She survived some health scares and lived to tell the tale.

A week before her 100th birthday, she fell and broke her hip while rushing to watch the Olympic Games.

After a remarkable recovery, she was one of the lucky lunchers to sit with Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk, having been officially honoured as a member of the 100-plus club.

Yesterday she sat in her chair in the sunshine surrounded by loved ones, including her nephew, who she remembers sewing a pair of pants for as a small boy, reflecting on a life well lived.

Fraser Coast Mayor George Seymour and Councillor Paul Truscott with Olive Williams, who turned 103 this week.
Fraser Coast Mayor George Seymour and Councillor Paul Truscott with Olive Williams, who turned 103 this week. Contributed


 

Olive Williams took up bridge to combat her boredom and make something of her life - she is still very involved and plays several times a week at the age of 101.
Olive Williams took up bridge to combat her boredom and make something of her life - she is still very involved and plays several times a week at the age of 101. Boni Holmes