100 reasons to visit: family still learning from century-maker Irene

DISTANCE was no barrier for the 30 people who helped Irene Whibley celebrate her 100th birthday on Saturday.

Mrs Whibley was born Irene Elaine Henderson in Nelson, New Zealand on April 25, 1914. 

Moving to Australia with her mother as a young girl, she later married Colin Whibley and settled in Castle Hill where the couple raised two sons, Garth and Christopher.

Garth Whibley said his mother was the driving force in his young life and a dedicated parent.

“She made sure at school that we wore the right clothes, the shoes were polished, our teeth were clean, the homework was done,” he said with a smile.

“She taught us everything about relationships and how to behave, and I’m still learning.”

The family moved to Orange in 1953 where her husband worked at Email as an industrial chemist.

Email manufactured products for Westinghouse, Kelvinator and Simpson and operated from the former Orange Small Arms Factory - today, the factory is run by Electrolux.

Mrs Whibley became much-loved in the Orange community as a dental nurse, a keen gardener and a member of the Orange Probus Club, CWA, Quota and the Embroidery Guild. 

Her younger sister, Iris Rummans, said Mrs Whibley and several of her neighbours embroidered items together.

“They would have a street stall in town and all the money went to charity,” she said.

While Colin and Christopher have passed away, Mrs Whibley is still surrounded by six grandchildren and 15 great-grandchildren, with another on the way.

Her family travelled to Orange from across the eastern states to help her celebrate.

A party in her honour was held at UnitingCare’s Carinya Village hall in Prince Street, near Parkwood Hostel where she is a resident.

danielle.cetinski@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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