Scarborough’s Douglas Gomersall celebrated his 100th birthday with almost 100 friends and family at an event he says “made his day” on December 21. It was a chance to look back on a lifetime of service to the community.
Douglas turned 100 on December 17, but celebrated the milestone during a reception at Redcliffe Leagues Club on December 21.
It was a chance for him to catch up with family and old friends, tell some stories and have a few laughs.
He told the gathering he was touched by the messages and well-wishes he had received and he had a “lovely, wonderful family that I’m truly very proud of”.
During his speech, which remarkably lasted more than seven wonderful minutes, he reflected on his Rotary days and spoke about how much he enjoyed life at BallyCara retirement village.
He also mentioned all the health checks he had to have to gain permission to leave the nursing home and attend his birthday celebration.
The doctor said: “Doug, I don’t know how you do it but you’re alright and good to go,” Douglas recalled with a smile.
His speech revealed a wicked sense of humour and how much he enjoyed being able to spend the morning with family and friends.
“Thank you all very much. It’s been a wonderful experience for me. I’ve got some lovely friends here … oh I could tell some stories,” he said laughing.
“Thank you very much for coming to see me. I can assure you, you have made my day.”
During the event in the President’s Room, he received letters of congratulations and recognition of his contribution to the community.
Rotary Club of Redcliffe City’s Bob Blanch announced Douglas would soon receive a jewel to add to his Paul Harris Fellow – an award recognising community service.
Rotary District 9600 Governor Neil Black congratulated Douglas and remarked that he was not the only Rotarian reaching the milestone this year.
“Doug is in great company because Rotary turns 100 years in Australia this year as well. Doug has been a member of Rotary for going on 55 years. It’s possible without members like Doug, Rotary would not be where it is in Australia today,” Neil told the gathering.
He thanked Douglas for his 55 years of service and presented a letter from the Rotary World President Holger Knaack.
Former Moreton Bay Regional Councillor James Houghton read out a letter from Mayor Peter Flannery and said council was aware of the contribution he had made to the community during his 100 years through Rotary and other work.
Douglas also received a letter from State Member for Redcliffe Yvette D’Ath, presented by his great-granddaughters Zara and Bronte Dennis.
His granddaughter Megan Dennis read out a letter from Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk, which congratulated him on reaching the milestone and encouraged him to join the 100+ club.
Granddaughter Naomi Gomersall read out a letter of congratulations from Governor Paul de Jersey.
There was also congratulations from Federal Member for Petrie Luke Howarth, who presented a letter from Prime Minister Scott Morrison thanking him for his contribution to the nation.
And of course there was congratulations from the Governor General David Hurley and the Queen, which was presented by his great-granddaughters Elsie and Pippa.
Douglas was born in Nambour where his family had a butchery and cane farm. When he was young, they moved to Gympie where they had a butchery and cold storage business and were involved in the cattle industry.
He left school after Year 7 to work in the family business as a butcher, but always preferred “the machinery side of things”.
He was working as a butcher before enlisting in the Militia in April, 1942. He initially tried to join the Navy but was rejected due to a back problems he’d managed since childhood. He was also rejected a couple of times by the Army, but persisted and was eventually accepted.
He served at Bougainville from late 1944 and was part of 56 Transport Platoon but was detached to other transport units and, for a brief time, to the 42nd Infantry Battalion. He transferred to the Australian Imperial Force in March, 1945.
After the war, Doug’s family moved to Redcliffe and bought an ice works/cold storage facility which they ran until the 1960s at MacDonnell Rd. Then, he and wife Doris opened a wholesale business which they ran until the early 1980s.
His son Darryl says he enjoyed his years with Rotary, and times boating and caravanning with friends. He was a founding member of Moreton Bay Boat Club.
“He’s always enjoyed a good time and people,” Darryl says.
Douglas and late wife Doris moved to BallyCara retirement village in 2008 and he moved to the nursing home after fracturing his leg late last year.