Six years ago, the Royal Victorian Aero Club celebrated its centenary by taking 100-year-old birthday girl Glad Evans on a joyride over Melbourne. It wasn’t Glad’s first pleasure flight — during World War II, she’d ridden her bike from Werribee to the RAAF base in Point Cook with her housemate. Her housemate’s husband, a pilot, had then snuck the pair onto an Air Force plane for a trip over the western suburbs.
Glad was born in 1914 and left school at 14 to begin training to be a tailoress. ‘Everyone told me I was very lucky to be have a job as a tailoress, but I didn’t think so,’ she says. She went on to work in a variety of jobs, including as a doctor’s receptionist.
Building a family
A highly competitive tennis player, it was at her tennis club where she met her future husband, Arthur. The couple had two children, Di and Neal.
Always creative, Glad studied floristry and opened a floristry shop with Neal. ‘He was a milliner and I helped him with the hats for Melbourne Cup Day fashions on the field. He won the Best Hat one year,’ Glad says.
Glad and Arthur had retired to Anglesea when the 1983 Ash Wednesday fires swept through, forcing them to evacuate. ‘I left in a hurry and grabbed a few things and when I got to Geelong, I found all I had taken was six petticoats.’ When they were able to return, there was not a blade of grass left, but the house was still standing. ‘The fires came within 100 yards of the house, then the wind changed.’ It wasn’t until she was in her 50s that Glad began creating delicate bark paintings and discovered she had real talent. Through word of mouth, Glad sold her pieces throughout Australia and overseas, donating the money to charity.
Glad was 102 when she moved from her house into Mercy Place. ‘I drove until I was 99-and-a-half without a conviction or parking fine until I decided it was time to give it up or else, if I had a crash, they would have a headline about an old lady.’
Her secret to a long and happy life: ‘Keep busy and keep your mind active.’
Glad passed away peacefully in March, remaining active, busy and vibrant for her entire 106 years. Vale Glad.
Reviewed 19 May 2023