Hugh Vallance still does a crossword every day and believes there are “a few secrets” to living to the age of 100.
“I reckon having a good wholesome breakfast is important,” he said.
“[And] I’d say to keep off smoking and drinking, neither of which I do.”
As the resident at Glendale Aged Care in Werribee prepared to celebrate his milestone birthday on Friday, he reflected on a life of music, sport and family.
Born on July 29, 1918, in Elsternwick, Hugh Alexander Vallance moved to the west with his family when his father and grandfather bought Hansen’s Garage in Williamstown in 1926.
“Williamstown’s changed since we first moved there, I don’t know if for the better,” he said. “They’re knocking down all the old houses and putting two houses in their place.”
He recalls growing up surrounded by a musical family.
His father played bassoon in the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, his mother was a pianist, his aunt a singer and his brother and sister also played instruments.
Mr Vallance learned to play the piano and organ and became an organist with the Freemasons in 1956 – playing at some 3300 lodge meetings across 57 years.
He also spent 14 years volunteering as a pianist for the Williamstown Community Singers and a Newport senior citizens group.
He married Joan in 1942 while he was serving in the army during World War II where he was posted to the 2nd Cavalry Division Army Service Corps, before being transferred to 120th Motor Transport Unit and the 146th Motor Transport Unit.
Together, they had a son Daryl, four grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.
Joan passed away in 2001.
Before and after his time in the army, Mr Vallance worked for the Commonwealth Oil Refinery, which later became BP Australia, and represented the company’s head office in mixed doubles at its annual tennis tournament.
He said sport had played a big part of his life – he is a life member of the Power Street Tennis Club in Williamstown, where he served as president for a decade, and he also played cricket for the North Williamstown Presbyterian Church.
Mr Vallance will celebrate his 100th birthday with friends and family at his daughter-in-law Carole Crane’s home on Sunday.
Mrs Crane, whom calls Mr Vallance “Pa”, described him as “a gentleman”.
“I’ve never heard Pa say a bad word about anybody,” she said.