Carinity Wishart Gardens Honours Latest Centenarian

Carinity Wishart Gardens Honours Latest Centenarian
Coola Velis with her daughter Avra Velis at the Carinity Wishart Gardens aged care community in Brisbane | Photo Credit:(supplied)

A multi-lingual florist has recently become Queensland’s newest centenarian. She celebrated her 100th birthday on 14 June 2022 at the Carinity Wishart Gardens aged care community.



Born Kuria Coola Flaskas on 14 June 1922 to parents Chrisoula and Nicholas Flaskas, Coola loved books and fashion magazines as a youngster. She would read one each night by torchlight under bed covers and at an early age showed a talent for styling.

She was just two years old when she and her mother moved from Greece to Australia due to political unrest. They reunited with Nicholas who had already emigrated and acquired two cafes in Queensland, one in Toogoolawah and another in Esk, Queensland.

Coola Velis pictured in her younger years (left) and Coola Velis at Carinity Wishart Gardens aged care community in Brisbane (right)
Coola Velis pictured in her younger years (left) and Coola Velis at Carinity Wishart Gardens aged care community in Brisbane (right) | Photo Credit: supplied

Coola would grow up to be a talented singer and pianist. She regularly performed in the town hall whilst working at the cafe at the same time. Brisbane Radio took notice of her talent and invited her to sing on the radio; she was in her mid-20s then.

She took over bookkeeping duties for their family business and also worked for the local Country  Women’s Association where she would later serve as its President. After her father passed away, she opened a florist business. Her venture became a success owing to her colour and design skills in fashion and fabric.

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 Coola Flaskas and Basili Koutsouvelis on their wedding day in Brisbane in 1958 (left), Basil and Coola Koutsouvelis with their baby daughter, Avra, in the mid-1960s (right)
Coola Flaskas and Basili Koutsouvelis on their wedding day in Brisbane in 1958 (left), Basil and Coola Koutsouvelis with their baby daughter, Avra, in the mid-1960s (right) | Photo Credit: supplied

Coola married Basili Koutsouvelis in 1958 wearing a pale pink wedding gown (departing from the traditional white gown) she custom-made herself. She gave birth to her daughter Avra in 1964 and later worked in Coles supermarket’s meat department.

Her daughter said that Cools would often be given complimentary tickets by her friends who ran the nearby Majesty’s Theatre. 

“She would stay up very late, working out seating lists for friends and acquaintances who couldn’t normally afford to go. We were always  dressed exquisitely, and no one ever guessed she did it all on a shoestring  budget.”

Centenarian Coola Velis with fellow Carinity Wishart Gardens resident Bessie Conomos (age, 101) who was also born on the small Greek island of Kythera
Coola Velis with fellow Carinity Wishart Gardens resident Bessie Conomos (age, 101) who was also born on the small Greek island of Kythera | Photo Credit: supplied

Coola taught Modern Greek at an international language school. She was in her 60s when she enrolled at Griffith University to learn Japanese. And when she was in her 70s, decided to fly back to Greece after six decades.

A proud “unofficial historian” on Brisbane Greeks, the centenarian was also an avid gardener until she was in her 90s.

She now just enjoys creating online content with her daughter which has so far generated 18,000 views on social media.



“The videos are about living, spreading love, and accepting ourselves and each other just the way we are,” Avra said. 

“Whenever I ask my Mum what she thinks is the reason she’s made it to 100 she says: ‘Because I love you  Avra, and you love me. If I didn’t have you, I wouldn’t live a day’.”