A century young on New Year’s Eve

WERE he not wheelchair bound because of a broken leg, Maffra’s Jack Cullen would have been the first one up and dancing at his 100th birthday celebration on Tuesday.

A lover of music and keen yodeller, Jack listened to members of the Briagolong Bush Band play some of his favourite tunes as between 80 and 100 members of his extended family came to wish him a happy birthday, cramming into the courtyard at the Maffra hospital.

Jack, who was born in Sale on the final day of 1913, has spent half his life in Maffra and surrounds, moving to the town in 1953 to take up dairy farming.

From the age of 13 or 14 Jack worked as a butcher, starting out at Ronchi Brothers Butchers in Sale before moving to Melbourne in 1945 to work with his brother Bill in a butchers’ shop.

Along with him went wife Helen (nee Flannigan), who he married in 1935.

When Jack retired from dairy farming in the 1970s he returned to butchering, working part time at Newry Butchers.

Jack lived at Stretton Park, Maffra, for a number of years until he broke his leg a few months ago and was transferred to Maffra hospital.

A longtime Western Bulldogs supporter, Jack began following Footscray when a friend from Sale, Norman Ware, was drafted to the team, becoming the first and only captain-coach to win a Brownlow Medal in 1941.

According to daughters Pauline and Helen, Jack follows a number sports including cricket, AFL and horse racing, watching the television from his armchair.

A big kid at heart, Jack loves spending time with his 25 grandchildren and 37 great-grandchildren, keeping the youngsters entertained.

According to son Barry, Jack was so youthful that one of his classmates once mistook him for his older brother as he danced about the yard with a broom.

A testament to the family’s love for him, Jack’s first great-great-grandchild shares his name.

Hesitant about proffering any words of wisdom, Jack suggests people should “go your own way and hope for the best”, as it has obviously worked in his favour.