Response to Coronavirus (COVID-19): Find out more about RSL LifeCare services. Read more
What is RSL Life Care? Find out
Emily-McNamara-landscape-1 | RSL LifeCare - provide care and service to war veterans, retirement villages and accommodation, aged care services and assisted living
March 07, 2019

Emily McNamara’s Story

Emily McNamara was born 100 years ago on the 5th February 1919. From the age of six she has lived in the Lismore area of Far North NSW where she has been a lifelong contributor to the local community. She has been a volunteer with St Vincent’s de Paul for 42 years, is the longest Laurel Club (Legacy) representative on the Far North Coast and is an active member of the War Widows Association amongst other things. Her vibrant personality and independence is an example to all who know her…

When I turned 100 a few weeks ago my room was like a florist shop! My daughters came in for afternoon tea and on the weekend I had a party with more than eighty people. They came from everywhere – Sydney, Brisbane, Newcastle – and I’m still getting birthday cards in the mail. To be honest I don’t feel any different to how I felt when I moved in here (to RSL LifeCare’s Fromelles Manor, Lismore) two years ago, so I’m lucky in that way.

I was reared on a dairy farm in this area from the age of six until I married Frank just after the war. We’d met at a dance in Lismore when he came back on leave. At the time I was working for the war effort by helping to make tents for the Army boys and he was fighting in the Pacific; he was riddled with malaria both during his time there and for a long time afterwards. We married as soon as he returned in September 1945 and soon after he went to Japan with the Commonwealth Occupation Forces for two years. While he was away I kept myself busy with work and waited for him to return.

Frank and I had four beautiful daughters, but tragically he died when the youngest two were still in high school. I found myself on a war widow pension with a mortgage and four daughters still to raise, with the two youngest still in high school. I could have gone out to work but instead I decided to live on my meagre pension and stay at home to finish rearing the girls. I wanted to be there for them, to be home when they came home from school in the afternoon, to know their friends and make their care my priority. It wasn’t easy but I managed.

“I say to the nurses and carers ‘If I don’t use it, I’ll lose it!’ and they say ‘you’re quite right Emily’.”

I’ve loved being part of St Vincent’s de Paul, Legacy and the War Widows Guild, I’m their longest living member. I think they’ve all had a very important part to play in our local community. From my perspective they were so good to me when Frank passed away. Legacy used to come and visit me every month just to see how I was. They’d offer to mow my lawns, practical things like that. But I could mow my own. When my mower was playing up on me, do you know what they did? They bought me a new mower, they were so thoughtful.

I’ve always done everything I possibly can for myself. I lived on my own from when my daughters left home until only two years ago. I remember when my youngest daughter married and moved to Newcastle I was so miserable, so terribly upset for about three weeks but then I got over it. And then I got on with it.

I still make my own bed every morning, even though they tell me they’ll do it for me. I say to the nurses and carers here “If I don’t use it, I’ll lose it!” and they say “you’re quite right Emily”. I think that’s the secret to a good, long life.

Photo: Emily McNamara currently lives at Fromelles Manor,

Words: Helen Johnston

Photography: Tim Pascoe

Blog Posts

Help for Vets in Need

Veterans’ Services

Find out more

Latest News

array(2) { [0]=> int(175) [1]=> int(41) }

A lifetime of service acknowledged – Shirley McLaren (née Lemon) 

Eighty-eight-year-old Women's Royal Australian Air Force (WRAAF) veteran Shirley McLaren (née Lemon) and resident of RSL ANZAC Village, Narrabeen, has been awarded an Air Force Gold Commendation for superior...

Read more

Love and Dementia

We want to say a huge thank you to our resident Bob Cardiff, who has and continues to be a huge advocate of supporting dementia....

Read more

Rod Kingham

Driver, Australian Army "My Dad had been in the Somme and he used to go to Anzac Day so we were an army family."  ...

Read more

Thelma ‘Shirley’ Grinyer

Nurse, Australian Army Medical Women’s Service “Most of our patients were servicemen, and they were the best patients you could find"   Shirley was an...

Read more

Dorothy ‘Topsy’ Curtis

Private, Australian Women’s Army Service (AWAS) “You have to protect your country and your families. If it happened again, I would have to join up...

Read more

Richard (Dick) Udy

Dick Udy couldn’t wait to enlist when war was declared in 1939. His sense of adventure was eventually fulfilled as a wireless operator onboard the...

Read more

Victory in the Pacific – 75 years since the end of World War II

RSL LifeCare has been capturing the memories of our war veterans for many years as a way of honouring our residents’ individual service. This VP...

Read more

Dot Curtis, featured on 7 News in commemoration of Victory in the Pacific

#OneInAMillion our very own resident, Dot Curtis, resident of Connie Fall in Narrabeen, featured on 7 News in commemoration of Victory in the Pacific on...

Read more

ANZAC Day – We Did Remember Them

ANZAC Day is one of the most important days of the year in the RSL LifeCare calendar. Despite restrictions and social distancing requirements, due to...

Read more

Joshua Manning and Homes for Heroes

Media Release Joshua Manning was a Clearance Diver in the Royal Australian Navy for 13 years. His passing on 7 October 2019 deeply saddened RSL...

Read more

Old Peoples Home for Four Year Olds continues to create buzz….

Read page 78 in Fusion Magazine......  

Read more

Great celebration ignites memories

A sense of inclusiveness, normalcy and joy was evident at RSL LifeCare’s Patrick Bugden VC Gardens recently with a magnificent Christmas celebration. The special event...

Read more

Download a brochure

We'll never share your email address and you can opt out at any time, we promise

Career Application Single

  • Accepted file types: docx, doc, pdf.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.