Mrs King’s milestone

99 years young: Smithton’s Elsie King celebrates a milestone birthday today surrounded by family and friends. Picture: Ashleigh Force. 

Life. Entering her 100th year, Elsie King can look back on her centenary of life and smile.

Elsie King (nee Wilmot) today celebrates her 99th birthday, and she sat down with the Chronicle to talk about all the things that have made her life memorable.

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

With so many children the Wilmot home was often a chaotic household, but Mrs King fondly recalls each of them chipping in with the housework.

“We all had our jobs to do, we had our own cow and some chickens, we always had fresh vegetables from our own vegetable garden,” Mrs King reminisces.

Finishing her schooling at 14, she began working several odd jobs, from cleaning to shop assistant.

“At one stage I went across to Melbourne and did some work, I was over there for 12 months [working] in a family home.”

On April 16 1942, the young bride married the love and light of her life, Darcie Reuben King.

“It was a very happy marriage,” she said.

Married during the war, Mr King was enlisted as Light Horse meaning their honeymoon was spent nearby the Kingston Barracks where he was based at the time.

Mrs King recalls travelling day and night by train from Smithton to Kingston for her honeymoon.

Following the war, the couple went into business with Mr King’s brother Wattie at a general store.

“The movies used to be next door [to our store] in the town hall,” she recalled. “We sold mostly candy.”

As the store expanded, so too did the family with the couple adopting their first child Richard.

“We couldn’t have children of our own and there were children that needed homes,” Mrs King said.

Then in 1949 the couple were again blessed with a child: their biological son Michael.

Some 20 years later, Mr and Mrs King expanded their family further by adopting Anthony and Anne (now Nielsen).

During the mid 1960s the general store relocated and expanded to become a supermarket, the business continued to thrive before it was sold to supermarket giant Roelf Vos once the couple entered retirement.

In 1994 Mr King passed at just age 77 but his memory remains in her heart and the hearts of her children and loved ones.

In the corner of her cosy lounge room a magnificent piano rests, however Mrs King admits her busy schedule interrupted her opportunities to play often when she was younger.

Even so, her niece Glenys King has fond memories of joining her aunt and uncle in the lounge room after church for sing-alongs accompanied by the piano and an electronic organ.

With a flair for cooking and knitting when she was younger, Mrs King now fills her spare time with puzzles in amongst busying herself with her housework and cooking meals, chores she is proud to still be able to complete.

“I don’t really feel as old as I am,” she said.

“I can’t believe it really, that I’m 99. I can’t walk as far as I used to but I’m still thankful I can walk, I don’t have to have a stick to walk with.”

To her longevity she credits her good health: “I’ve never been a drinker and I’ve never been a smoker, so that might help.”

Mrs King will celebrate her milestone with a birthday celebration that is “as quiet as I can” surrounded by loved ones.

Mrs King has 10 grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren to keep her feeling young.

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