Jean’s long life in the genes

Jean Bell has attended a few 100th birthday parties – and last week it was her turn to be the centre of attention.

The great-great grandmother, who still lives independently at the Carinity Elim Estate retirement community at Ipswich, celebrated her 100th birthday on 3 December.

She is the third centenarian in her family with two of her sisters also reaching triple digits.

More than 300 people have helped Jean celebrate her 100-year milestone at a number of birthday parties held around Ipswich over the past fortnight.

Today residents of Carinity Elim Estate at Raceview, where Jean has lived since 2002, joined in the celebrations at a special birthday party.

The birthday girl was born Daphney Jean Bell at Harrisville on 3 December 1919, the youngest of nine siblings.

She grew up on a farm at Mutdapilly and, after leaving school at the age of 13, went to live with her sister Maud to help with her children. At 16, Jean moved to Ipswich to work as a housekeeper/cook at a solicitor’s home. 

Carinity Elim Estate resident Jean Bell cuts her 100th birthday cake at Raceview.

As a young teenager she attended dances at St Mark’s Hall at One Mile where she met her future husband George, who she married in 1938. 

George and Jean lived at Somerset Dam, Esk and Brisbane before settling in Ipswich with their six children.

Jean recalls a bonus of her husband running a grocery shop in Ipswich was the delivery truck being able to transport 17 kids to swimming club. 

Gifted at sewing and craft work, Jean made wedding dresses for her daughters.

Jean and her late husband were avid lawn bowls players. Jean has played the sport since 1972 and served as President of both the Booval and Ipswich Bowls Clubs.

She still plays lawn bowls competitively three times a week and travels around Queensland to participate in carnivals.

“We had a celebration up at Ipswich Bowls Club last Wednesday and all the bowls clubs from around Brisbane and everywhere where I’ve been in the last 47-and-a-half years, they were all there. It was a great day,” Jean says.

Centenarian Jean Bell with second, third and fourth-generation members of her family.

Jean puts her longevity down to working hard, maintaining a healthy diet and an active lifestyle and “always keeping busy”.

“I like being active. As the old saying goes, you either use it or lose it. I don’t feel any older, I just feel the same,” Jean says.

Jean is the proud matriarch of 20 grandchildren, 51 great grandchildren and six great-great grandchildren.

“Getting married was the best and we had 66 years of good family life and the kids are all good,” Jean says.

“I’ve had a great personal life and I’ve had a great bowling life. You can’t ask for anything more.”

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