Simple tips for a long life from centenarian
relatives tried without success to catch up with Eileen.
It was while she was in Penrose she met her first husband Percy Petty, who went overseas to war.
Sadly, he was killed while serving in World War II.
Soon after, Eileen made her way to Matamata and found work with the Darraghs on Peria Rd, breaking in and riding horses and doing track work in the morning.
After the Darraghs, she went to work with Pearl Martin, again with horses, which were to become her passion.
Eileen ended up having her own thoroughbred, Te Omhe and bred a colt and filly from her. The colt had a fourth place at Pukekohe in his first start.
Eileen soon fell in love with Matamata man Claude ( Mick) Hill.
In 1948, Pearl Martin drove them to Te Aroha Domain to get married.
Eileen gave birth to Bruce and Gilbert; sadly Bruce died in infancy.
Eileen continued to work, this time in a local fish and chip shop called Privits, where Ruby’s Takeaways is today.
Eileen’s sister-in-law Roa Green looked after Gilbert while she worked in the fish and chip shop in the holidays.
Mick and Eileen moved into town to live with Mick’s mother and father in Vosper St where Eileen helped look after her mother-in-law.
Mick worked on the railway and did other odd jobs.
He then got a job at Matamata Pub as a barman.
When Mick died in 1975, Eileen continued to live in Vosper St but asked Gilbert and his wife Carol and their children Shayne and Claudine join her.
In 1982, Eileen’s third grandchild Daniel arrived.
Eileen who had been profoundly deaf since her early teens moved into Gilbert and Carol’s house on Western St after selling her house and section in Vosper St.
Eileen began to get interested in bowls. She was 70 when she started and became quite addicted to the sport.
She became a regular player and member of the Matamata RSA indoor bowling club and played on a Monday afternoon.
She was also a member of St Andrew’s Indoor Bowling Club.
In the time that Eileen played indoor bowls she claimed many prestigious championship titles. She also received numerous runner-up titles.
Eileen won club championship titles in: 1987 – ladies pairs, rinks,1995 and 1999 – rinks, 2000 – pairs, 2001 – rinks and 2003 – triples.
She was the aggregate winner six times.
Matamata Sub-Centre Indoor Bowls Championships she won: 1996 – rinks, 1999 – pairs, 2001 – rinks and 2003 – triples.
Tauranga Indoor Bowls Association Champion of Champions: 2005 – triples.
Eileen’s most treasured accolade was the Gold Star which she was after before she retired.
She will always be remembered as one of the club’s most successful bowlers as the records show
points she had her name on most of the trophies – many times in some instances.
In April 2007, just before her 98th birthday Eileen retired from indoor bowls because of her failing eyesight.
Her other hobbies apart from bowls and horses included knitting. She loved it.
Her daughter-in-law Carol got her to knit squares which she sewed together to make warm winter blankets.
She knitted beautiful baby shawls for the grandchildren and cardigans and jerseys for herself.
Spending time with her grandchildren was something Eileen really enjoyed.
Then the great grandchildren Chaise, Zara and Shawna arrived. She was even more proud of them.
Every pension day she would get Carol to phone Claudine to see if she wanted to go for a cuppa at Cafe Florian.
That made her day. Zara came too in the school holidays.
As her grandchildren were growing up, Eileen was also taken to the stock cars at Bay Park.
She enjoyed it a lot but didn’t like the dirt being thrown through the fence when the cars went around the corner.
Many people in Matamata would see Eileen walking fast through town, down to the corner shop opposite Matamata Primary School.
Eileen was from the old school so going to the same shop was what she did.
When Eileen moved into Matamata Country Lodge she was in her 100th year.
She was very well liked at the Lodge.
All the other ladies loved the flowers that Eileen’s family brought.
In the end, Eileen couldn’t see the flowers but her family tried to get flowers with a lovely scent.
Eileen used her walker right up until about a month before her death.
When asked one day what her secret to longevity was she simply said, ‘‘Work hard and use your legs. If you don’t you may as well buy a wheelchair’’.
Eileen died on March 6, 2013. She was 103 years old.
Eileen Clarice Hill