Betty Margaret Mooney was born in Booleroo Centre in the mid north of South Australia and died in Penola at the age of 100.
Betty spent the majority of her life in the South East married to farmers Lawrie Flint at ‘Rostrevor’, Glenroy and later to Murray Fowles of ‘Yurnga’, Lake Leake – outliving both spouses.
Betty’s parents had moved to Penola when she was four years old to take over the licence of the Royal Oak Hotel and apart from a retirement period in Adelaide between 2003 and 2018 she spent her life in her beloved South East.
She had a great love of her church and for the Sisters of Saint Joseph having been a foundation student of the newly-opened school, St Joseph School Penola in 1936. She spoke fondly of those early Sisters who had a great influence on her learning and on her life. They instilled a love of faith, a moral compass, a love of music and lifelong love of singing.
When her first husband Lawrie died suddenly of a heart attack in 1961 aged 43, Betty (aged 40) found herself on a steep learning curve. From being mum, homemaker and housekeeper she was suddenly thrust into running a busy and complex farm as well as continuing to manage the household and the three children, Jocelyn, Louis and Damian. For the next 11 years she did a great job of managing all those elements with excellent support from Damian when he moved back to the farm after finishing boarding at Rostrevor College.
Betty enjoyed involvement in the community and was a strong supporter of St Joseph’s School through the Parents & Friends, was a blood bank volunteer for many years with the local Red Cross branch, and later a very proud volunteer with her beloved Sisters of Saint Joseph at the Mary MacKillop Centre in Penola. It was a proud day for the entire community, the parish, and for the family when so many attended the Canonisation Mass for St Mary of the Cross MacKillop in Penola on October 17 2010. Her generosity and support for the Penola parish was reflected in her decision to leave a bequest to the parish.
Betty had eight grandchildren and 17 great grandchildren and loved them all. Her children used to say that she loved the grand and great grandchildren but she did tend to love them somewhat on her terms! Heading off dancing on New Year’s Eve (and on many like occasions) rated far more highly with her then babysitting grandchildren. She loved cooking, catering and providing for them but was heard to remind them of their manners a thousand times ‘Thank you, Nanny’ and ‘Yes, thank you, Nanny’ they would hear her say endlessly.
She was also known to speak her mind occasionally which didn’t endear her to everyone. It is fair to say that she was not known for her tact. Some would say you always knew where you stood with Betty.
She loved her faith, she loved dancing, she loved the races, she loved a party and she loved a brandy. She was an outstanding (even legendary) cook – and made and gave away scores of her highly prized shortbread/forcer biscuits.
A few years ago, when it was suggested she should push on until she reached 100 ‘to get her message from the Queen’, she responded with ‘Bother the Queen, I want a blessing from the Pope’!
– Lou FlintJump to next article