She was one of Broome’s most beloved characters who lived an admirable life spanning more than a century, but if you ask any of her children what Pearl Fong (Tack) will be remembered for, they will tell you — her smile. Pearl’s incredible 102-year innings came to an end when she died on April 24, less than three months shy of her 103rd birthday. The treasured local, who was believed to be Broome’s oldest living woman, devoted her time to getting to know all parts of the town’s multicultural community, had strong ties to the traditional pearling industry through her husband, and was a key figure in Chinatown history. Pearl was born to Chinese parents in Darwin in 1917 and lived at Emunglan, about 10km north of Katherine in the NT. She only had about two years of formal learning because there was no school bus and the distance was too far for her to walk. Broome became her new home at 18, when her parents moved to manage a bakery where the Runway Bar and Restaurant now is. It was next to a general store owned by the family of Arthur Fong, who she went on to marry in 1937, having three children — Doug, Victor and Joy. In World War II, Pearl was evacuated to Perth with her only child at the time, Doug, on board the Koolinda on January 21, 1942, just days before Japanese fighters attacked flying boats in Roebuck Bay and the Royal Australian Air Force base at Broome Airfield. The two lived in Salvation Army homes for many month, before her husband managed to drive to Perth to be with her. The couple owned two grocery shops in the Perth CBD until 1947, when they returned to Broome to re-open their old shop at the L.L. Tack Building on Carnarvon Street. It was a general store until they were forced to close because of supermarkets opening in the 1980s, which was when Pearl retired. She was surrounded by loved one for her milestone 100th birthday celebrations in 2017, when she received letters from Queen Elizabeth II and then-Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull. Her son Doug said his mother knew nearly everyone around Broome and had always spent significant time meeting as many people as she could. “She knew all the families of all different parts of the community, especially the indigenous people that came in, she knew all their kids and grandkids,” he said. “Mum would always have lollies for people when they came in, she would sit with people when they met on benches at the front of the shop to catch up. “She had a fantastic memory, especially when it came to families—she would know who was married to know and who was related. “By the end, she wouldn’t remember something from five minutes ago but would remember something from 50 years ago.” Mr Fong said he would remember her for her smile, her family-oriented nature, and how gentle and quiet she was. Victor Fong said Pearl never had a bad word to say about anyone. “Her smile is what she will be remembered by,” he said. “Anyone that knew her knew she was welcoming and pleasant, always happy, always smiling, right up until she died.” Pearl was diagnosed with pneumonia last month and died in Broome Hospital. Arrangements are yet to be made for her funeral because of coronavirus restrictions.