Mildred Phipps on her 105th birthday in February with her grandson Tom Phipps and great-grandson Sam Phipps.
Mildred Phipps on her 105th birthday in February with her grandson Tom Phipps and great-grandson Sam Phipps.

Former Surat local passes away at aged 105

A FORMER Surat local who was one of the oldest Queenslanders to live independently in a retirement village has passed away.

Mildred Phipps, who lived at the Carinity Hilltop Gardens seniors' community in Brisbane, recently died at the age of 105.

She was born Mildred Wehl in Toowoomba on February 11 1915, two months before Australian troops landed at Gallipoli, and was raised on a sheep grazing property outside Surat.

Mildred's son David Phipps said his mother had a very happy bush childhood with her five siblings in rural southwest Queensland.

"She was an expert horse woman and took part in station life - mustering, shearing, handling cattle," David says.

"Life was simple with no electricity, no refrigeration, no car. Supplies were delivered by dray every six months, big drums of flour, sugar and rice.

"The property was 60km from town - a long ride in a sulky. The family lived on meat from the property and veggies and fruit from the garden and milk from a cow."

Mildred would recall travelling by Cobb & Co coach from Surat to the train at Yuleba - a journey of around 80km - until her father bought a car in 1922.

At the age of nine, Mildred went to boarding school at Moreton Bay College in Brisbane and only returned home to Surat for holidays twice a year.

"My mother was greatly influenced by the good education she received there and the Christian principles of her teachers and kept in touch with them until they died," David says.

"She was a real student of the Christian faith."

After school, Mildred became a nurse and theatre sister whose dedication and skills were well regarded by some of the leading surgeons of the day.

In 1938, Mildred married Norman Phipps at the City Tabernacle Baptist Church in Brisbane. They had four children with the family tree later growing to include six grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.

After Norman's war service during World War II, the Phipps family moved to Gympie in 1946 and then to Brisbane in 1955. Norman passed away in 1978.

Mildred was one of the first residents of the then newly constructed Hilltop Gardens retirement village, buying her retirement unit "off the plan" and moving in 1983.

David says his mother lived independently there for a "full and satisfying 37 years" and "made many good friends."

"Mother was always a keen and knowledgeable gardener and spent her final years doing quiet charitable work and caring for her grandchildren and great-grandchildren," David says.

Carinity Retirement Villages Manager Phillip Sellwood says Mildred would be remembered as an active woman and an avid gardener who loved her roses as much as she loved art and classical music.

"Up until recent years she would regularly walk into Brisbane city from her home at Kelvin Grove," Phillip says.

"She was extremely well respected by all the other residents who made her acquaintance over the many years that she resided at Carinity Hilltop."

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