Jean marks 100 years

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High-tech world . . . Modern devices are a good way to stay in touch with family and friends, says centenarian Jean Booth. Photo: Shelley Topp

By SHELLEY TOPP

Rangiora’s newest centenarian loves the convenience of modern technology and would not part with her smartphone or iPad.

“It is a good way to keep in touch with family and friends,” Jean Booth says.

Jean uses Facebook, Viber and Messenger.

She checks Google and YouTube videos to learn new things and follows the All Blacks on Sky TV.

The modern way of communicating with smartphones, emails and texts doesn’t faze her and is a vast improvement on the slate board and scratchy pencil Jean began her school days with in Aparima, Southland, in 1924.

Back then, it was only a short walk to the Post Office for many families if they wanted to make a phone call.

Jean was born in Otautau, Southland, on May 21, 1919. She grew up in a large family with one brother and eight sisters, who have all died. She worked on the family farm in Westfield, and during the war managed the property with one of her sisters, Maude, while their brother Lex served with the army in the Pacific.

Later, she learned the soft furnishing trade, working at H&J Smith’s department store in Invercargill. She waited until she was 35 before marrying.

Her husband, Malcolm Booth, began their courtship by writing Jean a letter asking her if she would be his partner at a social function.

They married in an Invercargill Methodist church in 1954.

“We went to live on his farm at Wairio, which was covered in gorse and
rabbits when he took it over,” she says.

Jean helped with the farm work and was also a church organist and enjoyed
playing tennis and table tennis during this time.

The couple retired in 1982 and moved to a small farm in Rangiora before later shifting to a house in Kingsbury Ave.

Malcolm died in January 1994, but Jean remained in their home until
December 2016, when she moved into a serviced apartment in Rangiora’s
Charles Upham Retirement Village.

Before marrying, Jean learned the piano and later became a piano teacher. She also followed her mother’s interest in art, becoming a painter.

She is now a life member of the Rangiora Art Society.

Jean celebrated her 100th birthday in style at her home in the retirement village last Tuesday with a special lunch for family and friends.

An earlier function on Sunday also attracted a large gathering.

Jean enjoys a busy social life at the village, epitomising a slogan on display in her apartment: “Young at heart, slightly older in other places.”