She is 93 in November and as quietly determined as ever. O'Connor grandmother Skaidrite Darius was a true trailblazer at the Australian National University and has some good advice for young women ahead of International Women's Day on Sunday.
"I would say, believe in yourself and do what you want to do. If you don't believe in yourself, you can't do anything," she said.
In this time of toilet paper panic buying, Mrs Darius's story gives us some perspective. She fled the Russians from Latvia. She was put on a boat to Germany, thinking she would never see her family again, before they were all eventually reunited and migrated to Australia.
In a new foreign land, she ended up working at the Australian National University and broke new ground for women. She was there at the dawning age of computing, instrumental in using and teaching others about the new technology at a time when it was almost heretical for a women to hold such a position.
Today, she believes women have come far, but not far enough in terms of being treated equally, including with pay rates.
"That's something I still can't understand," she said, from her little unit in O'Connor. "We are all human beings. The only difference is biological. This has always been my issue. We are all the same. We should be judged on our ability and not our gender."
In the mid-1950s, IBM introduced computing processing to the ANU to deal with everything from payroll to stores to student results. They need a supervisor and an assistant supervisor and newspaper ads were placed asking for candidates to apply and sit a test. The small "M" accompanying the ad meant only men could apply.
But after 35 men who applied for the job of assistant supervisor all failed the test, Mrs Darius was put forward as a candidate by her then boss in accounts at the John Curtin School of Medical Research.
She passed the test and was offered the job. With one proviso. She would be marked as a male on her personal file as the system could not cope with the fact a woman had the position.
"So, for the next 30 years, I was a male," she said. "Everywhere on my record, I was Mr S. Darius." She also received 80 per cent of the pay of her male colleagues.
For the first 10 years of her job, she was the only female in data processing and computer administration. When she went to Sydney for training lectures, she was constantly told she was in the wrong place, because no one could believe a woman had her job. Other women were not always supportive. She remembers a typist telling her, "you do realise you've robbed a good man of a job?" She used to take colleagues to lunch at at the Queanbeyan Leagues Club but wasn't allowed to become a member. "Why not?" she asked the woman behind the desk. "Because you are a female," was the reply.
"I did a lot to understand the male world so we could speak the same language," she said.
"Many decisions were made at the pub. We would go for a glass of beer. In those days, women weren't allowed to drink with men but the publican would close his eyes and let us go. I felt my male peers did accept me and did respect me."
A turning point was when she was about to give birth to her daughter Maruta in 1963. She was expected to give up her job. She asked for maternity leave. The university eventually agreed to give her five months' leave without pay and allow her to return to her job.
"And I thought that was heaven," she said. "What I found out later is that my male colleagues had taken up my cause and lobbied for me to keep my job. That's when I really felt accepted."
Mrs Darius went on to become supervisor of the data processing unit before retiring in 1988. Her grandson Tomas Walsh wanted to find one of his grandmother's pay slips which was, again, marked with M for male, as part of collecting memorabilia for her 90th birthday. He approached the ANU. The payslips had been destroyed. But that approach by Tomas did set the wheels in motion for long overdue recognition of the contribution Mrs Darius had made. Late last year, she received an honorary doctorate from the university. Tomas walked beside her as she received the honour. "I felt so secure," she said, holding his arm.
Mrs Darius has grown to love Canberra. But first impressions were not good when she arrived in 1950 via the Bonegilla migrant camp.
"We told we were going to the capital city of Australia. We got out at the train station and thought we had been deported to the other end of the world," she said.
She was one of 30 Latvians seconded to work for Lyall Gillespie - who would become Canberra's city manager - at the Department of Works. But her family were sent elsewhere. One by one, she convinced Mr Gillespie to bring her mother, father and brother to Canberra, the family settling in Yarralumla and her father working as a kitchen hand at Government House. So she was persuasive?
"What do you reckon?," her daughter Maruta said, with a laugh.
Mrs Darius' life story should be made into a movie, it is cinematic, if, at times, terrifying. Her father Arnolds, a teacher, was an avowed atheist in their homeland of Latvia. That was controversial at the time and he used to go to church for appearances.
But before World War Two, as the Russians started mass deportations of residents in the Baltic states, things changed. The family fled to the west, escaping from their home as the Russians were literally moving down their street. Arnolds looked heavenwards to God and promised if He helped them, Arnolds would be a follower for the rest of his life. The family scrambled through an open window and hid in a rye field as the Russians trashed their home looking for them. Even as their trail through the field was obvious, the family was never detected; the Russians never looked through the window.
What followed was their escape towards the West and, from there, Mrs Darius was sent alone on a ship to Germany, aged just 16. Her father told her to give her eventual address to the Red Cross in Geneva and he would find her. And he did.
"I have so much to thank my father for," she said.
When the family reunited and migrated to Australia, they went by ship to Melbourne and then the Bonegilla migrant camp. Under contract to work for the government for two years after which they were free to do as they please, Mrs Darius was sent to Canberra; her brother to Port Kembla to work at th steelworks and her mother was made to stay in the camp. Mrs Dairus, with Lyall Gillespie's help, got her father first to Canberra, then her brother and then her mother.
The family settled at 36 Gunn Street in Yarralumla. (Much later, Mrs Darius and her husband, Pranas, a Lithuanian migrant, eventually moved in next door at 34 Gunn Street.)
Mrs Darius still remembers as a young woman feeling the overwhelming relief of being reunited with her family in the safety of Canberra and spending their first night at their new house in Yarralumla.
"My father said, 'You can go to bed and no one will knock on your door to take you away'," she said.
They were home.