Celebrating a century of life well lived

Carinity is mourning the passing of the one of the oldest people to live independently in a Queensland retirement village.

Mildred Phipps, who lived at the Carinity Hilltop seniors’ community in Kelvin Grove, recently passed away at the age of 105.

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

Mildred Phipps on her 105th birthday with grandson Tom Phipps and great-grandson Sam Phipps.
Mildred Phipps on her 105th birthday in February 2020 with grandson Tom Phipps and great-grandson Sam Phipps.

Mildred’s son David Phipps says his mother had a very happy bush childhood with her five siblings in rural south-west 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, 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 twice a year for holidays.

“She was greatly influenced by the good education she received there and the Christian principles of her teachers whom she kept in touch with until they died,” David says.

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 Ascot in Brisbane in 1955. Norman passed away in 1978.

Mildred was one of the first residents of the then new Hilltop Gardens retirement village, buying her unit “off the plan” and moving in in 1983.

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

“Mother 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, art and classical music.

“Up until recent years she would regularly walk into the 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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