It’s been a busy, happy time for our residents, staff and their visitors at royal Freemasons Ballarat.

In June, the home celebrated the 100th birthday of resident Marion Dolan. Family and friends admire Marion as “a feminist before feminism really happened”. They were on hand to celebrate a remarkable life for the new centenarian.

Marion says she always had a sense she would reach the significant life milestone. “When I was on holidays overseas in Asia once, a man stopped me on a bridge and said I would live to be 100,” she said.

“That’s always been a thought in the back of my mind since then.”

Marion and her sister Shirley were the first day pupils at Loreto Abbey Mary’s Mount school. She soon developed a passion for art, setting her on a career path – via Ballarat School of Mines’ fine arts – to work as a draughtswoman.

Marion’s cousin Julie Baker said that this industry suited her feminist outlook perfectly.
“Being a woman, they would tell her to make them a cup of tea and she never would. She was there to work,” Ms Baker said.

Marion met her husband Don McLeod at a boarding house in St Kilda Road where they were both living after WWII. They were married in 1951.

The couple moved around for Don’s work before resettling near Lake Wendouree in Ballarat.
A keen artist, Marion continued learning different arts, like leather work and pottery but continued painting until her eyesight deteriorated. In later life, she enjoyed visiting Ballarat Art Gallery’s Sunday afternoon music sessions, keenly following the progress of young Ballarat musicians.

Marion has lived independently since Don’s death in 2010. She only moved into aged care a few months ago, just shy of her 100th birthday.