A SUDDEN upheaval for the Kent family in the 1960s turned out to be a blessing for Knox.
Rowville resident Marcia Kent, who turned 100 last month, and her husband Richard had lived in East Malvern with their three sons until 1960 when the Board of Works acquired their land to build a sewer.
So they decided to move to Rowville and bought an acre and, says her son Thomas, his mother created a beautiful garden on it.
"And it's still beautiful today. She loves the trees; elms and ashes. But she just bosses someone around now to do it," he said.
Mrs Kent, a dedicated volunteer in the Knox community, celebrated her big day surrounded by family and friends.
Her father came from Hungary in 1900 and was an electrical engineer — his company was the first to light Chapel Street with electricity.
They lived in Hawksburn Road, Toorak but lost it all during World War I when her father was accused of being a spy because of his engineering skills and background. The government placed him under house arrest to prevent him from possibly passing on information to European countries, and he was banned from earning any money.
The family later started a new life in East Malvern and Mrs Kent enjoyed studying botany and art and went on to study home-making and dress design.
Mrs Kent was a founding member of the Red Cross branch in Rowville. She is still involved with the organisation and attends and helps at their luncheons. Her husband died in 1990, but the family automotive engineering business is still going strong with all three sons — Thomas, William and James — running the company.
Mr Kent, now 70, said the anniversary of the Darwin bombings earlier this year brought back memories for his mother. "She remembered those bombings, and the beginning and end of both wars — it wasn't a nice thing for her."
Mrs Kent lives at home and has carers but still travels to Upwey to play bridge every week.