It was unforgettable: 100-year-old Dorothea ‘Dot’ Correy, sitting with a two-tier cake, conducting 200 relatives and friends from across Australia in singing her favourite song, You Are My Sunshine to the strains of accordion music. She was celebrating her birthday on 12 March, at the Glen Innes home of her youngest son Dr Phillip Correy.
They came from NSW, Queensland, Tasmania, as far as Papua New Guinea – young and old, her four sons and two daughters, grandchildren, aunts, uncles, nephews, cousins, toddlers to mark the century of a remarkable woman whose life has been devoted to her family and to her Catholic faith.
Mrs Correy has been a lifelong parishioner at St Patrick’s, Glen Innes, notable for sitting upfront with a small group reciting the Rosary before Mass. St Patrick’s parish priest Fr John Carey was among the guests at her birthday celebration.
Poignantly, the accordion for her favourite song was played by Mrs Correy’s longtime Glen Innes Primary School friend, teacher Jenny Wiseman. The widowed Mrs Correy had worked at the school as a cleaner for more than 20 years to support her family.
Mrs Correy (nee Solomon), formerly of Karinya and now a resident of Roseneath nursing home, has received messages from the Queen and Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to mark her birthday, which was on 9 March.
She was born in Glen Innes at the height of World War 1. Her husband Abraham, who conducted a menswear shop with his brothers George and Peter, died in 1963.
It was after the business was sold in 1966 that Mrs Correy, with six children to educate, went to work as a cleaner at Glen Innes Primary School. As a result, all six children had the benefit of tertiary education, graduating from university.
Mrs Correy, who has 15 grandchildren, is sprightly and alert, maintaining a keen interest in current affairs. She continued to drive a car until well into her nineties.
Her secret for a long life?
“It’s her faith in God,” says Dr Correy. “She will say, ‘look at the world – that’s the wonder of God’. She has a deep faith which no one can question.”