Four hundred and two. That is the combined age of four of the residents who attended a tea party on 9 June 2016 2016, at Rand Aid Association, a Johannesburg frail care facility and retirement village.
The oldest centenarian is 101-years-old. Her name is Kira Plessis, a resident of Thembalami Care Centre who was born on March 29, 1915 – smack bang in the middle of the First World War… long before cellphones, computers, the internet or even the microwave oven and sliced bread existed.
Grace Snook is just two months younger than Kira, She still lives independently at Tarentaal retirement village. She is well known for her spunk and amazing sense of humour. Grace was born on May 18, 1915.
Third oldest is Minnie Sterling, a resident of Elphin Lodge who was born on January 25, 1916; and the baby of the group is Betty Haughton, a Ron Smith Care Centre resident who joined the centenarian club on April 19, 2016.
Rand Aid CEO Rae Brown said at the tea party that he was tempted to call the four ‘grand ladies’ but given that a grand is one thousand, they were only 10% on their way to earning that title.
“You have lived through the most dramatic times,” he said.
One hundred years ago, the world literacy rate was only 23%. Women were not allowed to vote, the average life expectancy for men was around 48 years, movie theatre tickets were only £1 and Johannesburg was but 30 years old.
The women all have remarkable tales to tell. Minnie did yoga regularly until the age of 95 and she firmly believes that the benefits of yoga have contributed to her longevity.
Grace was amongst the first residents of Tarentaal nearly 30 years ago and was a keen sportswoman. Today, she loves nothing more than watching sport on TV.
A keen bowls and bridge player in her younger days, Betty now attends occupational therapy at the care centre, and enjoys a range of arts and crafts that keep her mind and fingers nimble.
Born in Russia, Kira spent much of her young adult years travelling Europe and has fascinating adventures to share.