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Jean Whittle

Born 1929, age 93

“You have to develop your own wisdom as you live your life, because everyone’s life is different. But you have to remember to look on the bright side of things!”


Jean’s hard work, community spirit, and along with her friendly personality, have made her a stand-out Warrigal villager.

Jean was born in Dubbo in 1929, and moved to Illawarra with her family when she was 22. Her father, a store manager, was transferred to the area, so she joined them on the move. She had a brother who was 3.5 years her senior, and her cousin Doreen (who was more like a sister), whom she was the primary carer for until she passed away, aged 93.

Jean always worked as a secretary, initially starting in a solicitor’s office, then moving to an accountant’s office, land development, insurance, and eventually becoming secretary to the Wollongong Council city planner.

Jean loves to talk to people; if she had to describe herself in three words, she would say organised, (always) cooking, and outgoing. Her love of travel is also very important to her, with many memories from destinations across the globe. Some of her most memorable trips were when she camped from Cairns to Cape York on a safari, or in 1950, when she travelled to England with her father by ship – which took months!

Jean’s happiest memory would have to be meeting her ‘toy boy’ as she calls him, Martin, when she was 88, and falling in love for the first time. She met Martin while waiting for the bus to go to the shops one day, and he came along and offered her a lift. Not long after, Martin was interested in moving to Warrigal Figtree, and it was suggested that he speak to Jean since she had been there for so long – and the rest is history!

Jean and Martin’s love captured the hearts of many, with a post about their story going viral on Facebook, leading to even having a story in That’s Life magazine about them. Martin has since moved into the village – they’ve been in love for six years now, and still have lunch together every day.

Jean has worked hard to make Warrigal Figtree a happy village in the 33 years she’s lived there, and says that having the community as a support system has been great. They will often have activities – although they have been impacted by COVID – which often include high teas and concerts.

Jean’s piece of wisdom that she’d like to pass on would be that you have to develop your own wisdom as you live your life, because everyone’s life is different. But you have to remember to look on the bright side of things!

Jean believes that her greatest achievements would be being elected village president, and being on the committee for 31 years – only resigning in 2021. Jean would thoroughly recommend living in a village, and says she’s never regretted her decision. She already had friends living in the village, which made her transition much easier. She says it’s a good way to stay independent, but you can have peace of mind knowing that help is available if you need it.

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