A life filled with love

Congratulations on a century: Smithton woman Elsie King reflects on life as she prepares to celebrate her 100th birthday. Picture: Jelena Potpara.

Milestone. On the eve of her 100th birthday Elsie King will likely be sitting down to a jigsaw puzzle.

A table fit for that purpose is positioned at the sunny northerly window of her Smithton home, where she can watch the outside world from the comfort of her favourite chair.

Tomorrow the table will likely be moved to a temporary spot as the lounge room is freed up for the many loved ones who will visit during the open house to celebrate Mrs King’s milestone.

“I’ll be pleased to see the different ones, whether there’ll be many come or not I don’t know,” she says of the celebration which will welcome family and friends from Tasmania, New South Wales and Western Australia.

“I didn’t really expect to reach 100. When I was 99 I thought that was about it,” she laughs.

“I suppose it’s a great age to reach really. Although there is quite a lot reaching that age nowadays isn’t there.

“The problem is as you get older, you forget things that have happened. If you get with a group that is fairly well in age, when we had our family reunion (Willmot), we used to have it each January, we’d sort of get together and talk [about] things, different ones would have different stories to tell.”

Born in Latrobe on June 30, 1917 to James Albert Willmot and Horizontal Sophie Bingham, Elsie was the fifth eldest of 14 children.

“We went out to work when we left school, when we were 14. Usually we’d go out and do odd jobs, do work around the town for different people, just earn a few shillings.”

In 1942 she married Darcie Reuben King and the couple enjoyed an idyllic life together completed by their four children, Richard, Michael, Anthony and Anne.

The family were known by many as they owned the general store and then supermarket where Woolworths is now.

“I’ve been quite happy living in Circular Head,” Mrs King says.

From those busy days to the more relaxing ones of today, Mrs King now spends time knitting finger puppets to send to less fortunate children across the globe.

Mrs King is visited regularly by her four children, 10 grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren, with one grandson visiting daily for lunch.

Reflecting on life she says, “Family’s mainly what it’s all about, isn’t it really.”

Daughter Anne Nielsen describes her mother as “kind, good, happy, never grumpy” and says she takes things as they come.

“Try to anyway,” chimes in Mrs King.

Mrs King is sceptical that she will receive a letter from the Queen to mark the occasion: “I very much doubt that, I really do.”

And for all those thinking a jigsaw puzzle would make for the perfect gift, be sure it is 1000 pieces or less for anything bigger will spill over that table in the sunny spot in the lounge.


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