Edna Spurway was proud to be the great granddaughter of appllegend Granny Smith and of her family’s role in introducing one of the most popular apple varieties to Australia and the world.
In her words, “we always thought of Granny Smith as our apple. Of course we loved apple pie and all those kinds of things”. In fact Edna attributed her longevity to “good genes and lots of apples”.
Earlier this year, Edna Spurway celebrated her 101st birthday in style – surrounded by her family and with a slice of apple pie specially baked by celebrity chef Curtis Stone. Sadly, the matriarch of the Aussie Apple industry passed away on September 27, 2011, and will be dearly missed by all those involved in the Australian apple industry but most of all by her family.
Edna was the youngest of Frederic and Elizabeth Spurway’s thirteen children – four girls and nine boys.
Edna’s father, Frederic, was son of Maria Ann and James Spurway. Maria Ann’s mother was Maria Ann Smith who later became fondly known as “Granny Smith” – the founder of the popular green apple variety.
Edna grew up on the family farm in Ermington. The family also had an orchard at Nashdale, near Orange, and come picking time everyone would chip in. Edna 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”.
Her father, Frederic, was Mayor of Dundas and when her mother died in 1939, Edna took on the role of serving beside her father as Mayoress. She helped to run the household and orchard, as well as care for her brothers, which meant carrying on the family tradition of baking lots of apple pies. Luckily Edna inherited her mother’s great talent and love of cooking. As well as cooking for the family, she’s made cakes and jams for fetes and stalls through out her life.
Edna never married or had any children of her own. Sadly her great love story had a tragic ending. In 1941, a gorgeous young Edna was thrilled to be marrying a dashing Lieutenant Hedley Chittick. Unfortunately, just a couple of months before the wedding, Hedley died after surgery. For Edna, no one else would do. Edna was fondly known as Aunty Teddy by her 24 adoring nieces and nephews, and many, many great nieces and great nephews. She also remained very close with Hedley’s family who also called her Aunty Teddy.
She had a great passion for music. She played the organ and the piano, and was the organist for the Dundas Baptist Church for many years.
Edna’s other weakness was cricket. All her brothers played cricket and her brother Harry even played two test matches for Australia. Edna would often accompany her father to test matches at the SCG, but Edna was not just a cricket fan, she also played in a women’s cricket team.
Edna’s spirit, love of life and good humour was infectious. So next time you’re biting into a Granny Smith, you’ll know you are a part of a great Aussie legend created by a great Aussie family.