Born 1940, age 82
“Live an honest life and do the best you can – that’s all you can do.”
Ray Watkins has never been afraid to try something new, and reflects fondly on his life with a deep love of his family and community.
Ray was born on the North Coast, near Clarence River. He left when he was 15 to work at ANZ Bank and was often transferred to different locations. However in the 1950’s he was transferred one last time to Port Kembla. Here, he met his wife Mary, who didn’t want to move away from the area – so they stayed in Warilla and built a family life together.
Ray had a colourful career, trying many different jobs and trades, including working at a copper refinery, and driving a taxi with Mary. But out of all the different things Ray accomplished in his work, he says his greatest achievement would be marrying Mary in 1960, and the beautiful family they had together.
Together they had two children, and now have three grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren. Their photos are on display all around Ray’s villa, and he is so proud of them.
Sadly Mary passed away in January 2022, and when Ray reflects on their lives together, he feels so lucky to have been able to have done the things they did together. His happiest memories are all of the moments they had together.
They had a love of travel, and together with their children, they toured around Australia twice in their caravan. On one occasion, they timed one of their trips to leave Broome in September to catch the wildflowers bloom along the coast as they travelled south – enjoying paddocks and paddocks of wildflowers in different colours. Ray can’t just pick one favourite spot and says all of Australia is so beautiful, but the highlights were the Great Barrier Reef, Uluru, Darwin, and exploring Kakadu.
When asked to share some of his wisdom, Ray laughed and responded, “I’m not that wise!”, however, he added that you should live an honest life, and do the best you can. If Ray were to describe himself in three words, they would be honest, contented (with what he has done in his life), and integrity.
Ray places a large importance on having activities and social events that encourage people to get out of their units and come together as a community. Because of this, he volunteers to cook for the village’s monthly BBQs, and bowls once a week with a social group – keeping busy with his community is what makes life so enjoyable.
Ray has lived at the Warrigal Lake Illawarra village for 15 years, and has been the village president for the last 14 years. He is quite humble about his contribution to his village community, but his efforts in helping those around him have been invaluable. He has loved living at Warrigal Lake Illawarra, saying that it’s a place where everyone is happy.