On June 9, the date of her birth, the parish gave thanks for her life at Friday morning Mass followed by a lunch provided by Fr Fred Farrugia and parishioners at St Matthews Church Bridgewater.
She also gathered with family and friends on Sunday June 11 at the home of her daughter Therese and son-in-law Greg Bussell. Her other daughter Anne-Marie flew in from Tasmania and cousins, Ken and Karen and their children arrived from Melbourne. Gwen (pictured) said she had a lovely time with “people coming and going all day”.
An only child, Gwen was born and raised in Sydney. In her 20s she travelled to London and while working there she met her first husband, Jerome Willis, an author and journalist, in 1950. In their eighth year of marriage he died of cancer and Gwen brought up their two daughters on her own before returning to Australia when they were 7 and 5.
In 1981 she married her business partner Colin Noye but sadly he died suddenly in 1995. After Colin’s death, Gwen decided to move to Adelaide to be with Therese, Greg, and her only two grandchildren, Jeremy and Justin, who were four and nine at the time.
Shortly after she moved, Therese, Greg and Gwen purchased a beautiful acreage in Piccadilly. Therese, who is an architect, designed a new house for Gwen, just 100 metres away from their own house.
Gwen, who is a talented artist, requested a house full of natural light, with an art studio.
Since moving to the Hills she has been a regular Mass-goer at St Matthews Church, driving herself there until recently when she started using a walking frame.
“I don’t want to be lazy but I’ve got this bad leg,” she said.
“I can’t get the frame in the car, otherwise I’d still be driving.”
Educated at St Vincent’s College in Sydney, Gwen has been a practising Catholic all her life.
“I love the church at Bridgewater, it’s very simple and the people are delightful; I’ve got the best friends, and a lovely priest.”
Toasting her mum at the family gathering, Therese said over her 100 years Gwen had been “a daughter, a loving wife, a selfless mother to me and my older sister, a fun and generous grandmother to our boys, Jeremy and Justin”.
“You have shown great resourcefulness and creativity; as a young woman during World War II, whipping up the latest fashions on your sewing machine with your beloved cousin Dorothy,” she recalled.
“And later buying do-upper houses because that’s all you could afford, transforming them into lovely homes for us with a lick of paint, a roll or two of wallpaper and remnants of fabric.
“Even as a single mum and working fulltime, you managed to pursue your lifelong passion for learning including painting, drawing, the piano, pottery, yoga, philosophy, natural health, creative writing, French and travel.
“In your 80s you embraced the digital age, acquiring your first computer and learning all about Word, emails and how to play your favourite card game, Spider, electronically.
“You’ve always maintained great strength, conviction of your ideas, forthrightness, honesty and a strong moral compass. You’ve lived a life to be proud of and you are an inspiration to so many.”Jump to next article