103rd Birthday – Letty Bolton


Letty Bolton was born on the 18th of September 1918 in Mandurama to Harold and Ruby Burke. She had one brother and two sisters. Marie, 94 and Letty, 103, are the surviving siblings.

Letty Bolton attended Coccoar Catholic School, leaving at 13 with her Intermediate Certificate. She rode her horse to school with her mother, knowing she was on her way home when she heard horses hoofs on the bridge nearby.

After leaving school, Letty worked at Musgrave ladies shop in Mandurama. She later worked as a nurse at Temora Hospital, where she met Ernest Leslie, an accountant, who joined the Airforce, flying for the Coastal Command. They married and had two sons, Brian and Peter. Ernest was killed in the war in 1944 never having met his second son, born in Canberra Hospital, while Letty was staying with her Aunt.

During the war, while living in Bellevue Hill, Letty worked at David Jones in Sydney. She met John Bolton, who was born in Sheffield, England and had joined the British Navy. They married in 1948. John was a British-American radio astronomer who had studied at the University of Cambridge.

As an astronomer, he played an important part in the Apollo 11 moon landing. John and his crew ensured the telescope drives and control systems were in working order. The role John played in the moon landing was depicted in the Australian movie “The Dish”. Sam Neill, the actor, played John. John was awarded the Royal Astronomical Society Medal.

He passed away on July 3, 1993. John and Letty were living at Buderim at the time, with Letty Bolton moving to Mountain View Retreat, Round Corner, Dural, in 1998, where she still resides. Mountain View Retreat is a self-care retirement village.

Letty is a fiercely independent woman. She loved playing golf and played many high-level tournaments. She continued playing golf well into her 80’s when she took up lawn bowls. She still cooks for herself, watches the ABC and SBS News daily, and reads the newspaper religiously. Letty’s meals are always healthy, and she tries to walk around the village when she can. She is in amazing health for 103!

While living at Mountain View Retreat, she has made a close friend with Minnie Booth, now in her 90’s, and went on many road trips together while they were in their 80’s, to places like Bourke, Broken Hill and other towns in the outback Australia. On a visit to Cooper Pedy, Letty and Minnie slept in an underground hotel with upside-down umbrellas catching the gravel falling from the ceiling. Residents at Mountain View were astonished at the two independent and adventurous women.

Letty has five grandchildren and six great-grandchildren. She is the most knowledgeable person I know, teaching me something new every day – living through two wars, the Depression and now COVID. She has no problem speaking her mind, arguing her point of view and sees no purpose in not speaking ‘her truth’.

I met Letty the day she moved into Mountain View, quickly becoming her cleaner and, eventually, her caregiver. I see her most days, and she is like family to me despite us being very different. Living through the Depression has made her make use of everything and waste nothing! I have some OCD traits and like order and enjoy throwing things out – this has made for an interesting relationship. We have learnt over many years to be tolerant of each other and respect each other’s differences.

Letty Bolton is supportive of me as I am of her. She is one of the most inspiring persons I know. I hope she has a wonderful birthday.


Letty Bolton