Music, books keys to Joan’s long life

Jackson Lavell-LeeBusselton Dunsborough Times
Email Jackson Lavell-Lee
Joan Harlowe will turn 100 on March 30 attributing her long life to eating healthy, playing the piano and reading.
Camera IconJoan Harlowe will turn 100 on March 30 attributing her long life to eating healthy, playing the piano and reading. Credit: Jackson Lavell-Lee/Jackson Lavell-Lee

Busselton author Joan Harlow, who turns 100 on March 30, attributes her vitality to music, healthy eating and reading.

Her eventful life includes witnessing the fall of Singapore, the post-World War II Indonesian riots, and a stint as a religion teacher at Swanbourne High School, which resulted in her publishing a textbook on the Catholic religion.

Sadly, in 1973, her only son, Robert James Neville Harlow, died in a car accident on The Avenue in Nedlands aged only 21. “I was terribly sad afterwards. He was such a gifted intelligent boy and he was going to be a great lawyer,” she said.

Her husband, former navy Lieutenant Roy James Harlow, died in a Perth nursing home in 1994, leaving Mrs Harlow their Peppermint Grove home and Busselton beach house, which she moved to permanently in 2005.

Mrs Harlow has fond memories of growing up in Nedlands in the 1920s.

She said she loved living by the river but hated being forced into work as a typist.

“I was so embarrassed but once I was married I decided to go back and study a Bachelor of Arts at UWA, gaining a double major in French and English,” she said.

Joan still drives, does her own shopping, and plays the piano regularly, gaining her energy from a healthy diet.

“If I have my piano, my books and a view of the sea or the river, I will be forever happy,” she said. As for a letter from the Queen she is excited but doesn’t want anyone else to fuss — after all, “it’s just a birthday”.

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