A PART of Shoalhaven history has come to an end with the passing of Stella Wright, aged 100.
The region’s oldest Aboriginal elder, who turned 100 on February 4, died on August 1.
Mrs Wright lived through some of the greatest changes the world has seen and took great pride in opening letters of congratulations from the Queen, Governor General, Prime Minister and Opposition Leader, the NSW Premier and the local MPs on her 100th birthday.
Born Stella Lonesborough on February 4, 1913 at the Roseby Park Aboriginal Mission, she had links that went right back to the early days of Shoalhaven settlement.
Her great grandfather was Patrick Caffery, an Irish convict who arrived in the region in 1832 to work on the Berry Estate in Coolangatta.
He married Anne Gibney and their daughter Margaret Caffery married John Lonesborough.
She also has ties with the Smith (as in Artie Smith), Regan and De Mestre families.
She was one of five children of John Lonesborough Jnr and Mary Jane Carpenter. The family lived on the Crookhaven River, where her father worked on oyster leases that are still owned by the family.
Stella married John Wright and they had five sons - Terry, Patrick, Barry, Henry (known as Joe) and Trevor.
On her 100th birthday she revealed how she met the man who would become her husband.
“He was fishing with his father and was trying to get to Goodnight Island and a howling nor easterly was blowing,” she said.
“We were out with Dad in the launch and towed him down to the island.
“To tell the truth, I didn’t think much of him.
“I didn’t see him for a few weeks and then he kept coming around.
“But he was a big man and a good looking fellow.”
They married in 1934 in the Presbyterian Church in Nowra and also lived on the southern side of Crookhaven River, followed by moves to The Grotto in North Nowra and a house in North Nowra, where Sharman Park is located.
They subsequently moved to Culburra Beach and Bomaderry before Johnnie passed away aged 79 in 1995 after more than 60 years of marriage.
Stella then became a resident of the Rose Mumbler Village at North Nowra and, after a bout of severe illness, moved into Clelland Lodge about four years ago.
On her birthday she shared memories of working the Shoalhaven River with her father who was a fisherman, walking across the paddocks to go to school at Greenwell Point, picking peas and beans and later working as a housekeeper and waitress.
She spoke of having to travel from Crookhaven to Nowra by horse and cart, how the road to Culburra Beach was just a dirt track and remembered travelling to Currarong by horse and sulky to see the wreck of the SS Merimbula in 1927.
Mrs Wright was the loving mother and mother-in-law of Terry and Mina, Patrick (deceased), Barry and Mary, Joe and Jenny, Trevor and Kathy.
She was a devoted grandmother, great grandmother and great great grandmother.
The funeral service will be held today, Friday, at the Shoalhaven Lawn Cemetery Chapel at Worrigee at 2pm.