THE colourful and creative life of one of Koroit's much-loved residents Mary Fiorini-Lowell has been written into history in a new book.
Long-time neighbour and friend Jenny Phillips has written Jenny Chats With Mary in the hopes of preserving Mrs Fiorini-Lowell's many achievements in her 94 years.
"Mary was my neighbour, we lived on the same street," Ms Phillips said. "She was one of those people who you meet and instantly fall in love with.
"I was captivated by her like many other people. We started chatting and started telling stories; I'm a creative as well so we connected on a deeper level.
"I thought, what an incredible life. Mary was born in 1925 to a world that was very difficult, especially for women.
"Then for her to go on to achieve so many incredible things and stay true to her creativity was so inspiring to me.
"The reason I did the book is I was so saddened by the thought this incredible person could be forgotten over time. I wanted to have her remembered forever."
She and Mary started working on the book five years ago; catching up for interviews and sharing stories in their free time.
Sadly, Mrs Fiorini-Lowell passed away a year ago and did not live to see the final version of the book.
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"I loved every bit of it, I'm so grateful for the opportunity to record her life and to have her remembered," Ms Phillips said.
"Unfortunately she didn't get to see the final book which I was really devastated by because I wanted her to be the first to see it.
"I've been working with her husband Frank and read the whole book to him front to back before it went to print.
"He loved it which is fantastic.
"The process when I recorded the interviews with Mary they were all over the place; she might be talking about something five years ago, then jump to 10, then 40.
"A big part was piecing it all together with the correct timeline, most of which Mary and I did together."
Known by many as the Queen of Koroit, Mrs Fiorini-Lowell was born to the famous Bourke family.
Her parents, Eddie and Mary, owned the Koroit Hotel, where young Mary was born.
This hotel is still in operation today and is known as Mickey Bourke's.
This title comes from Mrs Fiorini-Lowell's brother, the late Mickey Bourke, who took on the hotel after his father.
"That in itself is an incredible story to be born in 1925 in hotel," Ms Phillips said.
"She grew up in the hotel and has always been a part of Koroit. She did a lot of travelling and always came back to Koroit, it was very special to her.
"She loved the people, it was very much home no matter where she was in the world."
While Koroit was home for Mrs Fiorini-Lowell, she also spread her wings far and wide, making a name for herself as an actress on the global stage.
She travelled extensively in Europe and was the English voice for Italian actress Gina Lollobrigida.
She was also an author, with her book, Poems from the Holy Land, published in 1980.
Her love of poetry and Koroit collided early this century when Mrs Fiorini-Lowell penned the poem The Humble Spud.
The poem has become an unofficial Koroit anthem and was performed by Mrs Fiorini-Lowell to a national audience on the Koroit episode of the ABC TV Back Roads program in January.
"She was brilliant, with confidence and wonderful skill for captivating an audience, whether she was telling story or performing she had that ability to do it, which took years of practice.
"She loved comedy, did radio plays and really lived quite an interesting life."
Ms Phillips thanked The Standard for helping to piece Mrs Fiorini-Lowell's life together in the book through old photographs and articles.
"In a nutshell I'm just really grateful to haven the opportunity to have gotten to know Mary on a deeper level, record her life and keep her memory alive."
The book is available for purchase at Mickey Bourke's Hotel, The Local Place Koroit and the Koroit Newsagency.
The book will be officially launched at the 2021 Koroit Irish Festival.
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