Mabel Crosby, affectionately known as the Queen of Queensland and Australia’s oldest resident, was honoured at a service held by the team at George Hartnett Metropolitan Funerals on Wednesday 6 January 2021, following her passing the previous week, aged 111.
Born in the United Kingdom in 1909, Mabel lived through two world wars and two global pandemics to celebrate her 111th birthday in September 2020. She maintained good health across her long life, and died after a short illness in Brisbane on 30 December.
Robyne Bamberry, her daughter and one of Mabel’s four children, explained the likely reason for her longevity: “She had a great work ethic, never smoked, barely drank, and as we were raised on a farm, we only ate fresh fruit, vegetables and other produce.
“Her faith and enjoyment of life and family were all part of her drive, as longevity isn’t extraordinary in our family, as her Mum died at age 83, and her father a Gallipoli survivor, died at age 72.
“Her extraordinary age can also be put down to her mental strength and determination; and whenever asked about her health she would describe herself as ‘fighting fit’.
“She also kept herself extremely active, including gardening and mowing her lawn, well after she turned 100. She never liked keeping still, and if she was sitting it was usually to knit.
Mabel arrived with her family by boat from the UK in 1913, left school around age 12, and began her career as an apprentice dressmaker in the early 1920s.
“Mum made all of our clothes across our childhoods, as she learned to be self-sufficient early in her life as she was a young adult during the Great Depression in the 1920s,” added Ms Bamberry.
Mabel and her husband Ernulf owned and ran a large poultry farm near Gosford from the 1950s, and she visited Queensland regularly from the 1970s following the death of her husband.
Mabel bought a house in Camp Hill, Brisbane in 1984, where she lived independently for over 40 years and entered aged care when she was 107.
Mabel’s independence and determination also extended to her funeral arrangements, which she pre-planned with George Hartnett Metropolitan Funerals.
“She just wanted a simple service, with just one hymn, and one single red rose on her coffin. Mum didn’t want people wasting money on flowers, and instead requested donations to Vision Australia.
“Mum developed a friendship with the Premier, as Annastacia’s grandmother was also resident at Tricare Sunnybank Hills where Mabel lived from 2017. The Premier called her “Mighty Mabel” and attended her 110th birthday, along with the Queensland Governor His Excellency the Honourable Paul De Jersey.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said it had been an honour to become Mabel’s friend in recent years.
“Whether it was helping to celebrate her birthday, or at the annual 100+ Club Christmas luncheon, I greatly valued our time together,” the Premier said.
“Our country and state owes a profound debt of gratitude to Mabel’s generation which built a firm foundation for the life we enjoy today, and I feel deeply privileged in particular to have known Mabel in the sunset years of her remarkable life.
“On behalf of all Queenslanders I offer my heartfelt condolences to her family who can take enormous pride in her strength, her independence and her love.”
His Excellency the Honourable Paul de Jersey AC, Governor of Queensland provided the following tribute: “Mrs Crosby was a force for reassurance and stability for five generations of her own family and in the lives of countless others. She was cherished by all Queenslanders as a source of great continuity in our State. In death as in life, may she continue to bring joy into the lives of us all.”
Ms Bamberry added, “Our family is extremely proud of Mabel, and while she was a great role model none of the family can imagine living to 111, or beyond!
“We will miss her sharp wit and the love she expressed towards her entire family and carers. She was unceasingly positive, well-mannered, and never said a critical word about anyone.”
Mabel Crosby, the honorary Queen of Queensland, is survived by her three surviving children, 10 grandchildren, 20 great grandchildren and 9 great, great grandchildren.