Esther's Long life ends

By hayley.gastmeier@age.co.nz -
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Oldest resident saw much in her 105 years

A GOOD LIFE: Esther Booth, thought to be the oldest person in Wairarapa, died on Thursday. Here she is pictured celebrating her 100th   birthday in Masterton, with her congratulatory letter from the Queen. PHOTO/FILE
A GOOD LIFE: Esther Booth, thought to be the oldest person in Wairarapa, died on Thursday. Here she is pictured celebrating her 100th birthday in Masterton, with her congratulatory letter from the Queen. PHOTO/FILE

A woman thought to be the oldest person in Wairarapa has died at the grand old age of 105.

Esther May Booth (nee Palmer), of Middle Run in Carterton, died peacefully on Thursday at Lansdowne Park Retirement Village.

Carterton-born Mrs Booth came into the world on May 5, 1911.

She was the second eldest of seven children and attended Longbush Primary School until the age of 11, when she left to care for her younger siblings on the Palmer family farm at Longbush.

In 1932 when aged 21 she married Henry Bryant (Jack) Booth and went to live as the fourth generation at Gladstone's Middle Run farm, now famous for its daffodil fields.

Together the couple had three children - Dick, Jennifer and Bryant.

Dick and Bryant both live in Carterton and Jennifer lives in Whanganui.

Speaking from his home yesterday, Dick, 83, said it was "quite fantastic" his mother had lived so long.

"One hundred and five years of being in this world - she saw a lot."

Esther Booth wrote to her uncle on the Western Front during World War I, and three of her siblings served in World War II.

Dick said his mother was a fantastic cook, feeding everyone who came in to her house, including the many shearers and harvesters over the years who had worked at Middle Run.

She even fed the soldiers who were doing training exercises at a neighbouring property during WWII.

Most of the cooking was done on a coal-range, until the 1942 earthquake which destroyed it - then the cooking was done outside.

Dick and Bryant remember their mother making soap and butter, which they would trade for rations.

That was how Dick acquired his first pair of gumboots.

"And of course they were handed down," he said.

"I got all the good mocka (clothes), by the time it got to old Bryant they were a bit patchy."

Mrs Booth was a founding member of the Parkvale Indoor Bowling Club, but she also enjoyed outdoor bowls and especially loved golf.

She was an active life member of Carterton Plunket, and belonged to the Gladstone Country Women's Institute and the Horticultural Society.

Mr and Mrs Booth moved to the Carterton township when they retired from the farm, around 1964.

Mr Booth died in 1985 and about 20 years ago Mrs Booth moved to Masterton where she lived at St James Court.

According to her granddaughter Deb Nelson, Mrs Booth was "fiercely independent", living alone up until just six months ago.

She loved her vegetable garden "right up until the end" and was a Times-Age subscriber, reading the paper "from front to back and back to front".

On her 100th birthday, Mrs Booth was tickled pink to receive a handwritten and signed letter from the prime minister, John Key.

Due to a "good clean out", Mrs Booth's sons have no early photographs of their dear mother, but say they will remember her as a woman who loved sausage rolls and tomato sandwiches.

Mrs Booth was a great-aunt of Carterton's mayor, John Booth.

He said it was incredible to think of all the historical milestones his great aunt had seen in her lifetime, including living through two world wars and a depression. "It's pretty mind boggling," he said.

A service will be held for Mrs Booth on Monday at 2pm, at the Richmond Chapel in Carterton.

In lieu of flowers the family request donations to the Royal Foundation of the Blind, which can be made in the chapel foyer.

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