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21 October 2020
Nhill resident May Craig is likely to find herself the ‘town celebrity’ this week, as family and friends join her in celebrating a life well lived.
Mrs Craig turns 100 tomorrow and although the COVID-19 pandemic has halted any plans for a large celebration, there will be a small gathering in her honour at Goldsworthy Park.
Mrs Craig’s daughter, Lesley Gordon, said although there would not be a big party, government restrictions would not stop people letting her mother know ‘just how special she is’.
“In this world in Victoria at the moment there’s not much joy so it’s lovely to have something to celebrate,” she said.
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“Mum is amazing, she is in particularly good health. She’s got a great sense of humour. She is very spirited and independent. She lives on her own and she’s only just recently accepted any help at all.”
Mrs Craig was born in Colac in 1920 and spent her childhood on the family farm at Kennedys Creek. Her father died when she was nine, a life-changing experience, leaving her mother to bring up six children while running the farm.
“There is no doubt that May inherited her mum’s strength of character which has carried her through her life,” Mrs Gordon said.
Mrs Craig left school at 15 and was sent to work in Colac. Fiercely patriotic, when the Japanese bombed Darwin, she travelled to Melbourne for the first time.
“I found the Women’s Air Force enlistment offices, but it took me a while to walk through the door,” Mrs Craig said.
“I actually walked up and down the street for a while before finally plucking up the courage to go in.
“I wanted to parachute out of planes into enemy territory, you know, I was young and very naïve. In the end I didn’t do anything heroic, but I suppose I ‘did my bit’.
“I often think I was protected during the war years. When the American soldiers arrived in Australia with chocolates, silk stockings and all manner of lovely things to tempt my friends, I missed out on their attentions.
“‘Thin was in’ and I had a chubby layer of fat so they never bothered about me.
“However, I made some wonderful lifelong friends in the air force, although sadly they have all passed away now. I guess that’s what happens when you live to 100.”
May met her husband, Keith Craig, on a Melbourne tram just before he shipped out with the British Commonwealth Occupational Forces, BCOF, to Japan.
They corresponded while he was overseas and sometime after his return to Australia they married. The couple lived in Melbourne and had two daughters.
In 1957, the family travelled to Kaniva so Mr Craig could help his brother in his new business, the Kaniva Club Hotel.
A two-week stay turned into a lifetime. Although Mrs Craig had little education by today’s standards, she enjoyed writing stories. In the past 15 years she has published three books of short stories, donating proceeds to the Cancer Council.
After her husband’s death from cancer, Mrs Craig sold her house at Kaniva and moved in with her daughter in Horsham.
“I wasn’t well at that time and I remember thinking that I didn’t have much longer to live... little did I realise that I’d still be here 20 years on,” Mrs Craig laughed.
In 2008, she moved to Nhill, where she lived in one of the Monomeeth units before deciding in 2010 she needed a larger abode.
“It seemed possible that I could be around for a while longer, so I registered my interest in a two-bedroom unit and was fortunate to get it,” Mrs Craig said.
She quickly involved herself in the Nhill community, joined Senior Citizens, continued to support a cancer group, attended the Uniting Church, joined Nhill RSL and Vision Australia, became part of West Wimmera Health Service’s day care group and greatly enjoyed the resurgence of interest in the Nhill aerodrome and Nhill Aviation Heritage Centre.
Mrs Craig’s gracious personality, quick wit and friendliness has endeared her to many people throughout the years and there are many who call her a friend.
She is, however, quick to point out that people have been friendly and kind to her – particularly those involved in Legacy.
The entire October 21, 2020 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!