A hundred reasons to celebrate

Hard work and not smoking or drinking are the keys to longevity, Johanna Smith says.

Johanna, or Joan Smith, as she is better known, turns 100 on Tuesday. She celebrated the milestone with family and friends in Crossley on Saturday.

She will celebrate again on Tuesday with her friends from Moyneyana House, where she lives. 

Good life: Johanna Smith turns 100 on Tuesday. She celebrated with her son Paul Smith (above), grandson Mark Smith (top left) and great grandson Josh Smith, 14, at her birthday party in Crossley. Picture: Amy Paton

Good life: Johanna Smith turns 100 on Tuesday. She celebrated with her son Paul Smith (above), grandson Mark Smith (top left) and great grandson Josh Smith, 14, at her birthday party in Crossley. Picture: Amy Paton

The Port Fairy resident said she was “very happy” to reach 100 and it had “snuck up” on her. 

“I’ve had a good life,” Mrs Smith said. “I never smoked or drank alcohol in my life.

“I think that could have something to do with (reaching 100). I think so.”

A highlight of becoming a centenarian was receiving congratulatory cards and letters from the Governor General Peter Cosgrove, Premier Daniel Andrews and Member for Wannon Dan Tehan. 

“It was lovely to hear from them,” she said. 

Mrs Smith was born in Garfield in Gippsland to John and Mary Ahern.

She grew up in the Gippsland area with her six siblings as her father moved around to work at different farms in the region. 

Mrs Smith married Bill Smith on June 21, 1939 and the pair had two children, Paul and Jeanette.

The matriarch is the proud grandmother of 12 and great-grandmother of eight.

Mrs Smith spent most of her life working at Melbourne’s Mercy Hospital as a domestic. “I liked working in that environment and I met a lot of people.”

When asked if she played sport or had hobbies throughout her life, Mrs Smith replied “I’ve always just worked. It was back in the Great Depression and things were very tough.

“There was sometimes one meal a day and one pair of shoes and one dress for the year.”

She lost her beloved husband Bill in 1982 and daughter Jeanette in 2009, aged 49. 

Mrs Smith moved to Port Fairy in 1988 where she lived independently, until moving to Moyneyana House 18 months ago.

Her family had extra reason to celebrate the milestone, after being told to say goodbye in December when a bout of pneumonia left her seriously ill, but Mrs Smith bounced back. “I’m very happy to reach 100.”

Happy: Hard work, not smoking or drinking are the key to longevity according to Johanna Smith, pictured with some of the Smith family and friends on Saturday. Picture: Amy Paton

Happy: Hard work, not smoking or drinking are the key to longevity according to Johanna Smith, pictured with some of the Smith family and friends on Saturday. Picture: Amy Paton