A thirst for knowledge, 'tickling the ivories' and walking every day have served Bill Woods well in his lifetime.
The former Goulburn man and retired doctor acknowledged he'd led a rich and fulfilling life, full of challenge and adventure.
"It certainly hasn't been boring," he quipped to The Post.
Mr Woods, now living in a Sydney aged care facility, turns 100 on Saturday, October 2. The Queen, Governor General and State Governor sent their congratulations.
He grew up in Goulburn, the son of Dr Robert Grieve Woods and wife, Minnie (nee Crawford). Named after his grandfather, William Cleaver Woods, an Albury doctor, Bill was the eldest of three children, including David and Frank, who had Down Syndrome.
His father practiced from the family home, Kantara, on the northeastern corner of Verner and Bourke Streets, opposite Sts Peter and Paul's Cathedral.
Mr Woods recalled that his father started one of the first group practices in Goulburn. He arrived in the city in 1920 and became a respected medico but was also the family disciplinarian.
"My father was devoted to his practice and we rarely went on holidays," he said.
"...(But) I have fond memories of growing up in Goulburn. I enjoyed walking and would go up to Rocky Hill."
Mr Woods attended Bourke Street Public School and Goulburn High and was a member of the Saint Saviour's choir. He noted that sadly, three of his school friends, Ken Rogers (of the Rogers Store family), Arthur Bennett and John Manfred, all of whom lived in the nearby Church Street area, had joined the Air Force and were killed in World War Two.
The Woods also mixed with the Maple-Brown, Bell and Gibson families. The family later moved to 78 Bradley Street, which was also named Kantara and housed his father's medical practice.
Following a final year at Sydney's Shore College and with three uncles also doctors, Mr Woods' future was almost pre-ordained.
"I don't remembering anyone asking me if I wanted to become a doctor but I actually had no idea what I was going to do," he said.
He enrolled in medicine at Sydney University and lived at Saint Paul's residential college.
War interrupted his studies and he served in the Sydney University Regiment. At the end of 1941 he joined the Australian Field Ambulance and was assigned to the x-ray department at 118 AGH, Northam Western Australia, the 2/14 Light Field Ambulance and First Armoured Division.
After the war
Mr Woods returned to university in 1945 and completed his degree in 1949. After completing his residency at Royal North Shore Hospital he undertook three years' postgraduate study in radiotherapy, given the facility was establishing a unit.
Following brief stints as registrar in radiotherapy at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital and six months at Melbourne's Peter MacCallum Hospital, in 1954 he worked his passage as assistant surgeon to England, on board the Orion.
It was while working in London that he looked up a family friend, Joan Chisholm Sendall, daughter of Goulburn solicitor, Neville Chisholm Sendall (of Johnson and Sendall) and Audrey Amy Southerden.
She had travelled to the UK on a working holiday. Ironically, the families lived in the same street in Goulburn.
The couple married on May 14, 1955 in Essex. The first two of their four children - Robert and James were born there.
"She was a wonderful wife, a great cook and a very soothing and wise person," Mr Woods said.
"She was so thrilled whenever another child came along. She had so much affection for them and it's a tragedy she's not here any longer."
Mrs Woods was also proud of her Chisholm connection.
The couple returned to Australia in 1957 and Mr Woods became director of radiotherapy at Royal Adelaide Hospital. But after securing the equivalent post at Royal North Shore Hospital in 1957, the family moved to Sydney.
He stayed for 20 years and ended his medical career as director of radiotherapy at the Sydney Adventist Hospital in Wahroonga.
In the interim, two more children - Susan and Richard - were born.
Not content with retirement, Mr Woods studied hypnotherapy, a field he said he found fascinating. The practice was based at the family's Wahroonga home.
Bill and Joan moved into a retirement village in 2004. Joan passed away in 2010.
Daughter Susan Pope said he had always been an extremely devoted, loving and supportive father.
"He adores his family of four children, eight grandchildren and six great grandchildren, the most recent being Lucas William - named after him," she said.
"I have fond memories of growing up listening to him playing the piano every evening while Mum made dinner; his love of watching the cricket; swimming laps every day in our pool, taking our golden retriever dogs for 'walkies' and sitting reading, always with a cat on his lap!"
She said her father was devoted to the medical profession but was never more inspired than when working as a medical hypnotherapist.
Her father remains active, walking every day, doing cryptic crosswords and playing piano for the residents at the Warriewood aged care facility into which he moved two years ago.
Each 'happy hour' he plays Our Love is Here to Stay in memory of Joan.
"It's fantastic that Dad has reached this incredible milestone, and still keeps very active both physically and mentally," Mrs Pope said.
"He's even embraced the digital world and loves using his iPad to FaceTime with family based all over the world, check the stock market and look at the latest photographs the family has posted on his iPhoto album."
Mr Woods said he was very proud of his family and attributed his longevity to a challenging job and happy life.
While the family can't join him for his 100th birthday, the aged care facility has arranged a special celebration in his favourite room and a zoom call for everyone to join in.
Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can access our trusted content: