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Hard work, self-control pays off for Ridgehaven centenarian

Vic celebrating his 100th birthday.png

Ridgehaven aged care resident Vytautas (Vic) has celebrated his 100th birthday thanks to what he says is hard work and self-control.

The newest member of Bolton Clarke’s Centenarian Club was surrounded by his family, friends and members of the Lithuanian community to mark his milestone celebration on Wednesday, 24 April.

“It can be hard work to get to this age and you have to control yourself – I didn’t drink, I only smoked for a few years when I was younger but quit,” Vic said.

Vic started his life in war-torn Lithuania and felt the full affect of WWII, which separated from his parents and family when in his late teens.

“We were taken into Germany and I was put to work at the railway and we were surrounded by a lot of strangers from other countries.

“I was separated from my brother as he went to reconnect with our parents because he was unwell.”

Before being separated, Vic’s parents had two very distinct, gold rings with onyx faces made for Vic and his brother to use as identification or barter.

“At first it was very scary but you get used to it – all my life from then on I had to be independent because I was away from my family.

“I hadn’t seen anyone since 1944 but in 1946 when I was at the train station, a woman noticed my ring.”

The woman came up to Vic and asked about the ring as she had seen one similar with different initials in the American zone of Germany.

Vic knew it was his brother the woman spoke of, so he travelled with her and her friends to Kassel and was reunited with his family after two years.

“We couldn’t go back to Lithuania, so my father filed the documents to Australia and the government suggested that one of the children come first and then after a year of working the rest of the family could come.

“At this stage I was 21 and I left my parents again and started working in the railway in Adelaide.

“I had to do rotten work to start off with like cleaning the pit while I was doing training and learning things, but at the time I didn’t really know what I was learning.

“I became a fireman and then passed other exams to become a driver – I retired from the railway 40 years later when I was 60.”

Vic met his late wife Valerija in a railway canteen along the Adelaide to Port Fairy line and had one daughter together.

Now ticking off a 100th birthday party from his bucket list, Vic says he is grateful have good health.

“I have been strong and done everything I needed to by myself.

“I did hope I would live this long but I didn’t know whether it was going to happen or not.

“Your health is very important when you get to my age and I’m happy here being cared for really well.”

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