Woy Woy’s Catherine Spalding will celebrate her 100th birthday in style this week and her family has helped take a look back over her extraordinary life.
Born Catherine Phoebe Wise in Leichardt in 1921, Catherine was raised in Balmain and developed a particular passion for rowing, even picking up her own rowboat for transport at age 16.
Catherine met Laurie and they married in 1942, but were only together for two days, before he returned to war.
She lived in her parents’ small boathouse in Orange Grove and enjoyed living on the water and fishing – rowing out to catch a single tiny fish for her toddler’s lunch when her eldest, Carolyn, came along.
Her youngest, Penny, arrived a little while after.
Carolyn (Butler) said Catherine now lives at BlueWave Living but has previously lived in Woy Woy for 21 years and prior to that, Copacabana.
“She was a sewing/patternmaker teacher and a talented painter in both watercolour and China,” Carolyn said.
“Her major passion was square dancing which she did for over 60 years – she gave up teaching at 90!
“Square Dancing took her and Laurie to many of the 47 countries she’s visited, and she credits her best friends to the wonderful group that is square dancing.”
Catherine’s granddaughter, Trish Noble, said her Nana was a “pretty amazing and
“Nana used to pack [the children] up and drive the caravan her father had made and take them across the country for holidays.
“We’ve always known Nana to be better than Navman!
“I think everyone who meets her marvels at her age – they think she’s at least 20 years younger and that is thanks to her amazingly active and independent life.
“She is such a wonderful and loving treasure to our family.”
Catherine will be surrounded by her two daughters, five grandkids and eight grandkids to help celebrate her birthday on November 18.
Happy Birthday Catherine!