Elizabeth Merlyn Fredericks (nee Bell) lived an extraordinary life. She survived two world wars, lived in the jungles of Burma, eloped at 22 and had a great devotion to Our Lady.
Mrs Fredericks peacefully passed away at the age of 103 years on August 7, 2013, happy that she had received the letter of congratulations from Queen Elizabeth II after she had turned 100.
Mrs Fredericks was born on August 24, 1910 in Burma, the youngest of eight children.
She attended St Matthew’s Girls High School in Moulmein, Burma, and went on to become a trained and qualified Registered Sick Nurse and Midwife at Rangoon General Hospital.
She also worked for the Muslim Free Dispensary Hospital for many years as a Senior Midwife; Mrs Fredericks was well known and respected in the community.
“My grandmother was very good at her profession,” Violet Faure told The Record.
Mrs Fredericks would also help those less fortunate within the community; she would deliver the babies who could not afford to go to the hospital and the people would repay her with bread or other such items.
However, it was Mrs Fredericks’ advice on faith and love that has stayed with Mrs Faure.
“My grandmother never failed to pray,” Mrs Faure said. “She prayed all the time, especially the Rosary; she had a great love for Our Lady.”
Mrs Fredericks would tell her children ‘I am praying for my children to stay respectful and united when I’m gone.’
She also used to joke about not marrying a Burmese boy, even though Mrs Fredericks was married for 60 years to a Burmese boy.
Mrs Fredericks met James Henry Fredericks during her training when he was one of her patients. The couple quickly fell in love.
At 22 she eloped with him and they were married at Sacred Heart Cathedral in Burma.
“They were our first example of a couple truly in love,” Mrs Faure said.
“Grandpa loved Grandma and he never left her alone. He was always holding her hand.”
Elizabeth and Henry Fredericks had 10 children.
Sadly, they lost three during the years of the Second World War.
The Fredericks family had to evacuate their home due to the dangers of bombs and spent three years in the jungle.
While Mrs Fredericks was the only nurse in the village, three of her children contracted malaria and due to the family’s isolation in the jungle they had no access to medicines.
“Elizabeth was a very strong, proud and powerful lady,” Mrs Faure said.
“She loved James and she kept her family together through the hard times and good times during her 60 years of marriage,”
In October 1976, Mrs Fredericks migrated to Australia and became a parishioner at St Jude’s Parish in Langford.
She loved Australia and Mrs Faure shares the fond memories she has of her grandmother.
“My childhood memories are of visits to Grandma’s house, making sandwiches in her kitchen, reading books in her back room and climbing the Chinese apple tree in her backyard,” she said.
“There are no words to express the love my Grandmother’s children, grandchildren, great grandchildren and great great grandchildren have for her.”