16 February 2023

Yass stalwart dances her way to 100, with thanks to the King - Elvis

| Sally Hopman
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Two old women with old man standing

Joyce McFeeters is congratulated on her 100th birthday by her son Paul “Doggy” McFeeters of Yass as her lifelong friend Betty Molony looks on. Photo: Paula McFeeters.

For some people, getting to 100 is all about living a good, decent life, eating the right foods and keeping active.

But for one Yass stalwart, it’s Scotch – two tipples a night is her recipe for a good, long life.

And Olive Joyce Hall nee McFeeters should know. The born and bred Yass local celebrated the milestone last week. Although she now lives in a nursing home in Albury, a strong contingent of Yass Valley family and friends went down to see her for the special day.

Granddaughter Paula McFeeters of Queanbeyan and Paula’s father Paul “Doggy” McFeeters of Yass drove to see the birthday girl, who prefers to be known as Joyce, reporting that she was in excellent form.

“She still loves to dance,” Paula said, “and she still loves Elvis. If you put his music on she’ll get up to dance.”

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Paula said the family was optimistic her grandmother would soon be receiving a letter of congratulations from the newly minted King Charles III.

But for this much-loved now centenarian, a letter from the other “King” might be just as well received.

“Nan has always loved Elvis,” Paula said. “She always used to talk about having once sat on his knee. We’re not quite sure about that seeing as she’s never been out of the country, but she has always insisted she did sit on his knee. Maybe it was an Elvis impersonator.”

Joyce was born in the Yass Valley, growing up on the Springfield property near Murrumbateman. She married Clyde McFeeters and they had three children.

These days, she has 10 grandchildren and has “lost count” of the number of great-grandchildren.

Young girl

At age three, outside the family homestead Springfield, near Murrumbateman, a young Olive Joyce. Photo: Supplied.

“Everyone knew my nan in those early days,” Paula said. “She was a very prim and proper type – she even taught marching band.”

But she was best known, according to Paula, for the many years she worked in the local “everything shop” known as Meaghers.

“Lots of people remember my nan from when she worked there,” Paula said. “It was one of those shops where you could buy anything and you’d always see her behind the counter.”

In later years, when her marriage ended, she moved to Sydney and got work in a bar in Bankstown, Paula said, called the Three Swallows.

“It was at that bar that this guy kept coming in wearing his work clothes. Nan would get really upset with him because it was quite a fancy place at the time.

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“She said she was livid when he kept coming in wearing clothes like that, but she also said it was love at first sight.”

His name was Kevin Mason and they remained together for many happy years until last year when he died, aged 93.

“Because she was older than him she always used to reckon she was a cougar,” Paula joked.

These days, Joyce is living with dementia, and has “good and bad” days, according to Paula.

“We had such a special day when we went down to see her for her 100th,” she said. “It really was lovely with a special lunch and we had champagne and they had a beautiful cake which they shared with all the residents later on.

“It was a good day for Nan, she seemed to enjoy herself. It was really special because we had five generations of the family there for the occasion.

“Nan was the oldest and my son Beau Jack, who is two and a half, was the youngest.”

Old lady with champagne.

Centenarian Joyce McFeeters celebrated her 100th birthday last week with family, friends – and a glass of bubbly. Photo: Paula McFeeters.

Paula said she always felt blessed by her grandmother’s love as a young girl growing up and right up to today.

“My mum said I was Nan’s favourite,” Paula said, adding, “I probably shouldn’t say that. But she did spoil me.

“Even when it was my sister’s birthday, I’d get presents too.”

Paula said one of the highlights of the celebrations was the number of people who wished her nan well via social media.

She posted a tribute on sites across Canberra and Yass “to my nan” which drew thousands of comments and likes, including describing her as “a treasure”, a woman who “still has the groove and a song in her heart, bless her”, “happy birthday – looking forward to your 101st” to “she has lived through the most fascinating times during her 100 years … from Model T travel to space travel. No TV to one you can carry in your hand everywhere”, to “happy 100th birthday Nanna, what a milestone and she looks great. Clean country life I expect for her longevity.”

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