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Spurway, Edna Mary (Teddy) (1910–2011)

by Harriet Veitch

Edna Spurway was proud to be the great-granddaughter of apple legend Granny Smith and proud of her family's role in introducing one of the most popular apple varieties to Australia, and the world.

"We always thought of Granny Smith as our apple," she said, and liked to attribute her longevity to "good genes and lots of apples".

Earlier this year, Spurway celebrated her 101st birthday in style, surrounded by her family and with a slice of apple pie especially baked by celebrity chef Curtis Stone.

Edna Mary Elizabeth Spurway was born on June 3, 1910, and grew up on the family farm at Ermington. She was the youngest of 13 children — four girls and nine boys — of Frederic Spurway and his wife, Elizabeth (nee Thornton). Frederic was the son of James and Maria Ann Spurway, and Maria Ann was the daughter of Maria Ann "Granny" Smith. The first Maria Ann, the wife of an orchardist, had dumped some apples in her back garden and one of these grew into a tree that produced a green apple good for both eating and cooking. It was dubbed "Granny Smith" after her.

Edna was also a great-granddaughter of convicts George and Frances Spurway, also early fruitgrowers in Dundas.

Along with his fruitgrowing, Frederic served as mayor of Dundas for many years and, when Elizabeth died in 1939, Edna took on the role of lady mayoress. She helped to run the household and orchard, and worked on the family's orchard at Nashdale, near Orange. She was always happy to drive the tractor or pick and pack the family fruit — as she said, "it wasn't hard work but it was tiring".

At home, she also helped to care for her brothers, which meant carrying on the family tradition of baking lots of apple pies. Luckily she had inherited her mother's great talent and love of cooking. As well as cooking for the family, throughout her life she made cakes and jams for fetes and stalls. She lived in the family home until she was 87, then went into a retirement village.

Spurway never married. In 1941, she was engaged to Lieutenant Hedley Chittick. Unfortunately, just a couple of days before the wedding, he died after surgery. For Spurway, no one else would do.

However, she was fondly known as Aunty Teddy by her 24 adoring nieces and nephews, and many great-nieces and great-nephews. She also remained close to Hedley's family, who also called her Aunty Teddy.

As well as cooking, Spurway loved music. She played the organ and the piano, and was the organist for the Dundas Baptist Church for many years.

Her other weakness was cricket. All her brothers played cricket and she played in a women's team. Her brother Harry played two Test matches for Australia and Spurway often accompanied her father to test matches at the SCG.

Edna Spurway is survived by her large extended family.

Original publication

  • Sydney Morning Herald, 3 October 2011

Citation details

Harriet Veitch, 'Spurway, Edna Mary (Teddy) (1910–2011)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://oa.anu.edu.au/obituary/spurway-edna-mary-teddy-13939/text24831, accessed 21 September 2019.

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