Richard Thomas became the first Australian centenarian of 2023 when he celebrated his 100th birthday on January 1.
The resident at Carinity Wishart Gardens aged care community in Brisbane, and the newest member of the Carinity 100 Club, has attributed his long life to enjoying it modestly and complication-free.
Relative Michael Kearney, said he agrees Mr Thomas’ modest life was a big factor in reaching such a mighty age.
Mr Kearney explained, “A depressed post-war era saw him live with brothers, sisters, step-brothers and step-sisters in a big family. The times meant that he rarely left the postcode, going to school there and enjoying his days in the outdoors.”
Born and raised in Brisbane, Mr Thomas was trained as a counting machine technician from the age of 15 and worked his entire career for the National Cash Register Company.
He married his wife, Clare (nee Kearney), in his early 20s and lived happily with her for over 75 years until she passed away in 2021.
Mr Thomas spent over a decade building his family home in Holland Park, Queensland. He and his wife bought the land in the 1940s and spent each weekend at the block working on the house.
“As they had no car, they would catch the tram from West End and carry tools and building supplies with them in the tram,” said Mr Kearney.
“Richard was determined and patient and this is no more evident than in the meticulous work that saw their small self-built chamfer board home completed. Thirteen years of weekend and annual holiday work was what it took them to complete the project and move in.”
Mr Thomas and his wife never had children but instead enjoyed their lives together within the house they built with their own hands.
The pair would often go on beach holidays together, rather than take big trips overseas.
Mr Kearney explained that, “Richard’s preparedness to work hard, without the need for luxuries or expensive belongings, meant he was a simple yet quiet man who found pleasure in the very ordinary but important aspects of life.”
In his later years, Mr Thomas worked in his garden and enjoyed healthy foods, as well as working part-time in his retirement at the Brisbane Cerebral Palsy League, helping young people with disability in the workshops.
Mr Thomas was very independent, even after having a stroke in his 80s, and remained independent while living at home with his wife up until their mid-90s.
“Richard has led an uncomplicated life, always calm and considered and never caught up in the need for image or prestige or position,” said Mr Kearney.
Mr Thomas now lives with dementia but he remains happy, positive, and gentle while receiving care at his facility.