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Good genes, future focus secrets to Bill’s 100 years

Bill Eaton, Bongaree Centenarian in his WWII uniform

Good genes and a little bit of luck are the secret to Albert Ian ‘Bill’ Eaton’s longevity, according to the Bribie local.

Bill will celebrate his 100th birthday on 1 December at his home at Bolton Clarke’s Bongaree retirement village, where he was one of the original residents.

Born in Melbourne in 1923, he grew up in the suburbs of Clayton and Oakleigh East and completed his motor mechanic apprenticeship before enlisting in the Australian Military Forces (AMF) at 19.

He served as a Sapper in the Royal Australian Engineers in Borneo for just under three years.

“I enjoyed working the heavy machinery associated with railway construction,” Bill said.

“And I made life-long friends during the war.”

After he was discharged Bill returned to his job as a motor mechanic specialising in tractors, trucks and farm machinery. He met his first wife Margery at a dance and the two were married in 1948.

It was the promise of escape from the Melbourne weather and the encouragement of his son that inspired Bill to move north to Bongaree in his retirement. He made the move in 1982 and has not looked back since.

By then a widower, Bill married his second wife, Daphne in 1987 and they lived together at Bolton Clarke Bongaree for 35 years until Daphne’s death earlier this year.

Son Steve says stoicism and resilience have been hallmarks of Bill’s attitude to life.

“He has always been fit, healthy and active, and like many of his generation who grew up in the Great Depression and served in World War II,” he said. “He is mentally very resilient and copes with adversity by looking forwards rather than backwards.

“He is a very decent man who believes in living life with a minimum of fuss and not worrying about things that are beyond his control. He is a wonderful bloke and my best friend.”

With a younger sister who is still well at 96 and parents who lived well into their 90’s, Bill is setting the example for his two children, four grandchildren and four great-grandchildren, all of whom admire him very much.

“He will turn 100 with his mind still very sharp or, as his generation likes to say, ‘he has all of his marbles’!” son Steve laughed.

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