Long-time resident of Wagga and former World War Two switchboard operator Nella Beryl Hickey has died on April 29 at the age of 107.
The seventh of nine children, Mrs Hickey was born in Sydney on November 6, 1914, amidst the start of World War One.
At age six, Mrs Hickey and her family moved away from the city and to the Riverina town of Hay, where she spent her childhood making the most of the Murrumbidgee River as a reprieve from the summer heat.
The Keys family was a musical one, with Mrs Hickey a gifted violin player often joined by her siblings around a piano played by her sister or as part of familial orchestra performances.
Finishing school, Mrs Hickey joined the infant's department at Hay Catholic School as a teacher's assistant, where she was paid 10 shillings a week, all in threepence and sixpence.
She also worked the switchboard at Hay Post Office until moving to Echuca on the New South Wales-Victorian border to study nursing.
There, as she prepared for her final exam, Mrs Hickey contracted tuberculosis.
She saw her five months of recuperation in a Melbourne hospital as a pleasant holiday where she took an English literature course, played Monopoly with other similarly affected nurses and enjoyed picnics around the city.
As World War Two began, Mrs Hickey responded to the call for switchboard operators needed in the Riverina town of Jerilderie before being transferred to Tocumwal, a home for Air Force, Army and Displaced Persons' camps.
It was back in Jerilderie where Mrs Hickey met her husband and where the two of them bought and operated the Rainbow Cafe, which on top of raising two children with minimal assistance, demanded 6am - 1am days.
After 12 difficult and fearful years, Mrs Hickey and children Michael and Christine left Jerilderie for a new life in Wagga.
Unable to access refuges or government assistance and with no assets to her name, as was common at the time, Mrs Hickey's life in Wagga, at age 40, began under great financial hardship.
It was here that she balanced being a single mother with work at the post office and Wagga Base Hospital.
She rode a bike around town, not owning a car until her children both left school.
When she finally retired, Mrs Hickey still contributed to the community through her volunteer work with charitable organisations like Meals on Wheels or by knitting warm clothing to send overseas during disasters.
She was also kept busy through her social life with friends in The Day After Monday Club, as treasurer of public speaking group the Penguin Club, working at the local Eisteddfod or as a member of the Business and Professional Women's Association.
Mrs Hickey also continued a lifelong interest in sport, watching cricket and television into her later years, when she wasn't gardening or reading.
But it was a love for overseas travel that was most ignited from her 50s onward, according to daughter Christine.
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Regular trips to and an interest in Greece lead to Mrs Hickey learning Greek, on top of the German language she had already endeavoured to learn.
Following an accident at 95-years-old, she moved into Aurrum Aged Care Residence in Erina, only a few minutes from son Michael and daughter-in-law Noelene.
It was there, watched over by her children, she passed away peacefully.
Mrs Hickey is remembered as a loving and supportive grandmother to her seven grandchildren and great-grandmother to 11 great-grandchildren.
Former long time Wagga resident Paul Casey described his close friend as "valiant", "positive" and at the forefront of brave and proactive women standing up for themselves and their children.
"The overriding features of Nella's 107 years of life were her positive attitude and complete embracing of life - not the glass half-full, but the glass overflowing," he said.
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