We are excited to introduce to you the lovely Grace Jones, one of our residents of SummitCare Wallsend and at 99 years of age, nothing is slowing this woman down! She’s had an interesting life and has lived her life in service to others. Grace is so helpful and brings a lot of joy to our home, is always welcoming and makes friends easily. Newly appointed Resident Representative she’s honoured to take on this role. Here is a little of Grace’s life story.
Let’s start at the beginning.
Born in 1923, Grace grew up in Newcastle. She was an only child who discovered from her Aunty at the age of 16 years that she was adopted. Grace’s biological father Tom Woods died in World War I and she never learned her biological mother’s name. She was raised in a big family with 2 cousins, Jessie and Heather, Aunty Amy, Grandma Jess and Grandpa William and Uncle Jack. Her adoptive mother was Alma.
As a young person, she worked at the Bonds factory in Newcastle before joining the Army at the tender age of 18 years. She served as a switchboard operator for the duration of WWII.
During her enlistment she was deployed to Newcastle, Melbourne, and Sydney. Grace also proudly received two service medals for her contribution to the war effort. Then Grace met Keith in Melbourne one Saturday night at a dance. Keith was from Mackay in Queensland. The romance began when Keith asked her to dance. He was serving in the Airforce and was quickly deployed. They didn’t see each other for a month, but they kept in contact by writing letters.
On 26th May 1945, several months before the end of WWII, Grace married her sweetheart Keith Jones at St Peters Church, Hamilton. It was a wonderful day and Grace vividly remembers how 8 girls in uniform formed a guard of honour as they exited the Church.
Setting up home in Newcastle, Grace and Keith had three children – a son and 2 daughters. They bought their home in Carlton Street New Lambton for $2,235.00 in 1980.
Sadly, Keith passed away suddenly at the age of 54 from a heart attack. But she cherishes her many wonderful memories of her life with Keith.
She recalls that during the war, Keith told her of the shocking sights at Hiroshima after the nuclear bomb. She also remembers that Keith notified the Army about a tragedy on Stockton beach – a boating accident and Keith and one of his mates were asked to dive to find the sunken wreck.
Grace and Keith loved camping and would often go camping at Seal Rocks and Harrington with friends they met from the railway where Keith worked after the war. She is the proud grandmother to 8 grandchildren, 7 great grandchildren and is soon to be a great, great, grandmother! She loves her wonderful big family. Grace also loved her Foxy Terrier dogs.
A keen tennis player, Grace enjoyed over 14 years of matches at the local Broadmeadow Club’s tennis courts. Of interest and inspiration is that Grace helped to start up Ronald McDonald House in Newcastle, an organisation that helps to provide a home away from home for the families of seriously ill children being treated in the children’s ward at John Hunter Hospital. She counts this as one of her greatest life achievements.
Her tireless effort to help ill children and their families has been a great sense of joy and special moments in her life.
She recalls, seeing a young girl who was unable to walk, crawl into the Ronald McDonald Home. Grace was amazed to see after a few sessions of therapy, the young girl was able to walk out of the House with the aid of crutches.
She also formed a very special bond with a young 6 year old boy Philip, who because of his condition could not even be hugged as he was in so much pain. Little Phillip was on the children’s ward at John Hunter Hospital 41 times and always asked for her and followed Grace around.
When asked what Grace has learned about life – she believes that the generations of today are very different in terms of how they live and think. She believes more careful thought is needed before making decisions.