Dancing his way to 100

It could be a happy marriage. It could be keeping active. It could be social time. But it is definitely an enjoyment of life that has contributed to the longevity of Phil McDonald who has just turned 99.

His birthday was celebrated with 120 of his closest friends at morning tea at the over 50s resort at Eagleby where Phil is an active and well-liked resident.

Friend and fellow resident Roy Fuller said Phil was a gentle man.

“It’s hard to believe he’s 99. On New Year’s Eve he was still dancing at midnight. He is a fantastic guy and liked by everybody,” Roy said.

Phil’s birthday gift was a set of hearing aids, worn for the first time on his birthday.

Born in Minyip, Victoria, Phil is the youngest of three sons. His father was among the soldiers who landed on Gallipoli where he was wounded and spent five months in an English hospital. He was then sent back to the front in France and was buried for 43 hours after a bomb exploded in the trench. He became unconscious for 20 days and his leg was amputated.

“He really did very little war service, but he spent a long while in hospital,” Phil said.

Phil served in the air force in very high frequency directional flying, serving at Port Moresby and in Darwin.

He met his future wife Joan when she was 16 while playing tennis.

“I told her I’d see her in a few years’ time and she was still there waiting for me when I came back,” he said.

The pair married in 1951 and celebrated 67 years of marriage before she died in 2018.

“I truly believe a happy marriage is part of the reason why I have lived so long,” Phil said.

Phil worked as a clerical worker in the chemical industry in Melbourne and retired to the Gold Coast at age 60. There, he and Joan managed a complex at Tugun. They moved to Eagleby 13 years ago.

Now Phil plays bowls twice a week and is the caller for the hoy card (similar to bingo) game every week. He also attends the centre’s concerts and social events.

“I keep as busy as I can. I like being busy. I also like doing quite a bit of nothing,” he said.

“Bowls in particularly keeps me active, allows me to mix with people and give me mental stimulation.”

Phil said he can’t credit clean living completely for his good health. “I smoked in the air force until I was 40 and I used to make my own beer, but when I was 90 I decided to give up alcohol and I’ve had nothing since,” he said.

Phil has one surviving child, one grandchild and three great grandchildren.

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