Laurence Grovermann celebrates 100 years

Laurence Grovermann’s face expressed pure delight on Tuesday when she was handed a letter addressed from the Queen to honour her 100th birthday.

Coincidentally, Mrs Grovermann was the giver rather than the receiver of mail when she became post mistress of Williamstown Post Office in 1968 following the passing of her husband Jack.

Jack had operated the well-oiled machine from the 1950s and it was only in 1986 that Mrs Grovermann handed over the reins to eldest son John, who stayed on until 2003.

Yet Mrs Grovermann and her sharp mind meant she remained an active member of the Williamstown community.

She is still known for her competitive side, especially when it comes to bowls, with indoor bowls at Abbeyfield leaving her top draw full of chocolates as winning proof.

On Tuesday morning, no fuss was spared in marking her significant milestone.

Her favourite colour was highlighted when she was supported by sons John and David in planting a pink standard rose ‘Floribunda Bonica’ in the gardens of her home at Abbeyfield, Williamstown.

The planting was followed by the installation of plaque to further signify her life.

Mrs Grovermann, (nee Smith) was born in a small house at Stanley Flat, outside Clare, on February 19, 1919.

For a stint she lived at Bungaree Station where she was christened in the nearby church.

She was an employee of Eudunda Farmers during her early years. She also worked in Laura and Brinkworth, with many relatives of her mother’s family, the Giles, now family spread far and wide in the district

Yet her greatest treasure would become her husband Jack and their four children Elizabeth (deceased), John, Ann and David.

The family grew with the arrival of eight grandchildren, and later 18 great-grandchildren – the youngest Jaelya, aged six.

John Grovermann’s fondest memory of his mother came after vowing and declaring he would never be kissed at 16.

“One night mum and her friend Hazel Bain put on lipstick and smothered me in kisses,” he laughed.

He explained how his mother then did her ‘fairy dance’, as she called it, and he said it was generally after she and her father had caught up with Hazel and Cliff to play cards. Mr Grovermann hinted that a tipple may have been involved.

“She certainly was a character and she loved to play penny poker,” he said.

Mrs Grovermann continued to live independently in her Williamstown home until just two years ago before moving into Abbeyfield.

“If she could still hear and see properly, she’d still be living there,” Mr Grovermann added. 

Residents and staff, who she refers to as her family, joined for morning tea, complete with a specially made cake, and watched on as she was left ecstatic after opening cards sent by the Queen and Governor General Sir Peter Cosgrove.

On Sunday, her birthday celebrations continue as she will be joined by more family and their friends for a party in the Senior Citizens Hall.

In true Mrs Grovermann fashion, her birthday speech on Tuesday morning remained heartfelt and true, “Just thank you everybody,” she said.