Blanche Kingdon wrote a book entitled I Did It My Way.
And indeed she did, say her daughter Gail Taylor-McCabe and granddaughter Jo-Anne Bird who paid tribute to Kingdon following her death last week.
She was 87.
"Looking back at all the things Nana did, I wonder when she ever had time to sleep," Bird said.
Born in Whangāmatā in 1931, Kingdon was the eldest of eight children. The family moved around a lot, following her father's forestry career.
In 1950 she spent her college years at Takapuna Grammar on a scholarship, while her family moved to Rotorua.
Plans to become a pharmacist were forced to the backburner just after she passed her final exams as a "wonky heart" – a defect she had had since birth – flared up.
In Rotorua she swapped the chemistry of medicine for tree science at what was then the Forestry Research Institute, becoming its first woman technical officer.
Twenty-six years later, Kingdon became a social worker and worked at what was then Social Welfare, retiring as a senior social worker and leader of Rotorua's Child Protection Team.
Taylor-McCabe is Kingdon's daughter but not long after a UK working holiday she married widower Harold Kingdon and became mother to his three children.
During her lifetime Kingdon was involved with countless Rotorua organisations including being the co-founder of Rotorua Budget Service. She was a member of Birthright ("redundant after DPB"), the Operatic Society (several lead roles) and the Toastmasters Club.
Kingdon was a member and president of women's service organisation Quota, president of the Multiple Sclerosis Society, original member of the Whare Aroha Trust, St Chad's Communication Trust, committee member of the Princess of Wales Health Camp, served on its school's board of trustees (was instrumental in preventing camp's closure), served on national health camps' board, Citizens Advice Bureau, docent (guide) Rotorua Museum, and was a marriage and funeral celebrant conducting "well over" 300 weddings.
She was made an MBE, gained Lion's Club recognition and gained two district council community service awards.
"It's fair to say she had her finger in every pie she could," Taylor-McCabe said. "But despite being so busy, she was always full of life and an absolute force to be reckoned with."
Taylor-McCabe said her mother had acknowledged she had had a good innings.
"Doctors wanted her to have a heart valve replaced, an operation she had undergone years beforehand, but she said no."
Bird said she had always looked up to her nana.
"She was, and always will be a wonderful role model for me. I don't think it matters what I do or how successful I become, I will never accomplish what she did."
Both said they expected tomorrow'sfuneral to be huge. "She was always helping others and I think that will be reflected at her service."
Kingdon's funeral service is being held at Osbornes Funeral Director's Chapel at 11am tomorrow.