Celebrating more than a century of birthdays as Busselton resident Joan Harlow turns 105

Craig DuncanBusselton Dunsborough Times
Joan Harlow celibrating her 105th birthday with friends
Camera IconJoan Harlow celibrating her 105th birthday with friends Credit: Craig Duncan

Joan Harlow reflected on her life while surrounded by friends celebrating her 105th birthday.

Mrs Harlow was born on March 30, 1919 and boasts a tenacity and charm that has stuck with her throughout the decades.

At a birthday celebration at Equinox overlooking the Busselton Jetty, Mrs Harlow said she was amazed to have so many people around to support her.

“I am totally amazed at the decency of everyone and how kind everyone is,” she said.

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Throughout her life, Mrs Harlow has had a dynamic range of experiences.

During Wold War II she worked in the maritime industry in Fremantle.

It was there she met her husband Roy Harlow returning from the Pacific.

After the war, Mr and Mrs Harlow travelled to Jakarta, Indonesia, only find themselves caught in the Indonesian War of Independence (1945-1949).

They both narrowly escaped the country in 1946 and settled back down in Australia to have their son Robert.

At 75, Mrs Harlow attended the University of Western Australia to earn a degree in arts.

She also boasts a degree in music and is known to still play her grand piano daily.

Her musical talent extends to composing also, with Mrs Harlow having written a short piece of piano music titled Glowing Light, which was professionally transcribed in Italy.

On top of this all, Mrs Harlow has written a 100-page textbook on Christianity titled Image and Likeness, and is currently hard at work on a second edition.

A life so long lived undoubtedly contains significant heartbreak also.

Mrs Harlow’s older brother Ken was shot down and killed over the English Channel by the Luftwaffe in World War II.

Her son Robert tragically died in a car crash in 1973, followed by Mr Harlow.

Mrs Harlow’s nephew Ken Crowe said despite the losses Joan has endured throughout her life, she has remained happy and upbeat.

In 1997, Mrs Harlow moved to Busselton where she has lived ever since.

She said she loves the people in Busselton and is always amazed at the kindness and interest shown by the strong local community.

Her younger sister lives in Queensland and will be celebrating her 100th birthday this year. Much like Mrs Harlow, she is in excellent health.

Mrs Harlow said the only tip she could offer for living a long life was to eat healthy, remain happy, have a clear purpose in life and keep your mind active with reading and music.

Busselton mayor Phill Cronin attended the birthday celebration and said he first met Mrs Harlow when she was 99.

Since then they have developed a strong relationship with her taking the role of surrogate grandmother in his life.

Cr Cronin said he often finds himself visiting Mrs Harlow to make sure she is still well.

“She is a lovely lady and with all her family over East, I think we need to look out for her,” he said.

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