Birth­day bash for 100-year-old

Central Otago Mirror - - YOUR PAPER, YOUR PLACE - JO MCKENZIE-MCLEAN

It is hard to be­lieve Bessie Pear­son is 100-years-old. In fact, she can hardly be­lieve it her­self.

The spir­ited grand­mother and great-grand­mother, who still lives at home in Ran­furly and drives a car, has been cel­e­brat­ing the birth­day mile­stone with a week­long party with her fam­ily, friends and the Man­iototo com­mu­nity.

‘‘It has been won­der­ful. I’m a bit emo­tional. There has been a big lead up to the birth­day. I was thrilled to get a birth­day card from the Queen and John Key.

‘‘I can’t be­lieve it. I have kept good health...I used to play hockey and lots of golf. I took up golf when I was 53 and fin­ished when I was 83. I got a hole-in-one when I was 80 in Ran­furly.’’

De­spite strug­gling with some arthri­tis, there is noth­ing wrong with her mind, she says.

‘‘I can still re­mem­ber my first day of school and what my teacher’s name was. She wore a brown checked skirt, lace-up brown shoes and a brushed wool jersey which is fash­ion­able to­day.’’

Pear­son was born in Naseby on Novem­ber 14, 1916 and was the sec­ond old­est of a fam­ily of five.

‘‘I went to school when I was five years old un­til I was 12, then I did a cor­re­spon­dence course and there was not district high school...I got mar­ried when I was 22 and lived on a farm in Kye­burn for 60 years and had four daugh­ters and one son.’’

Dur­ing her early years of marriage, life was ‘‘prim­i­tive’’, she says.

‘‘I had a pi­o­neer­ing life. I had no tele­phone, no power, no neigh­bours, no run­ning wa­ter for a start....We used to boil the cop­per on Satur­days for one bath a week.’’

Her hus­band died in 1991 and the farm was sold and she moved to Ran­furly. Keep­ing ac­tive and be­ing in­volved in the com­mu­nity has been a key to longevity. Pear­son has been in­volved in or­gan­i­sa­tions such as the Women’s In­sti­tute, the Man­iototo Gar­den Club and Plun­ket. Dur­ing her time with Plun­ket she was for­tu­nate enough to share af­ter­noon tea with the Queen in Dunedin.

‘‘I have heaps of friends be­cause I have been in­volved with var­i­ous ac­tiv­i­ties.’’

She has had a ‘‘happy life’’ and has lived fol­low­ing sim­ple words of ad­vice writ­ten in her au­to­graph book as a young child: ‘Be a good girl, lead a good life, choose a good hus­band and make a good wife’.

‘‘That’s what I have tried to do.’’

JO MCKENZIE-MCLEAN

Bessie Pear­son, of Ran­furly, who turned 100, re­ceived a birth­day card from the Queen.

CH-7477250AC

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