Julia Waters joins the centenary club

JON HOUZET

JULIA May Waters (nee Bisset) joined a select club of Port Alfred residents last Saturday when she turned 100.

STILL GOING STRONG: Julia Waters (centre) became one of Port Alfred’s centenarians on Sunday, flanked here by her daughters Jeanette Nel (left) and Lynette Nancarrow. Waters, who has lived in Port Alfred most of her life, was visited by her grandchildren and great-grandchildren from around the country who joined residents of Damant Lodge in wishing her happy birthday Picture: JON HOUZET

Waters, a resident of Damant Lodge, celebrated with other residents, friends and family who came from around the country for the auspicious occasion.

“It’s not often you can say someone’s celebrated 100 years with a very healthy life,” said Damant Lodge administration manager Margaret Barnard.

Waters’ eldest daughter Jeanette Nel said her mom was born in Lesotho, of 1820 Settler stock, the second of four siblings.

Waters’ mother died in the 1918 flu epidemic, leaving behind four children, all under 8.

“When she was 11 they moved to Bathurst, and then to Port Alfred when she was 15. Their paternal grandmother raised the kids,” said Nel.

She remained in Port Alfred for most of her life, enjoying the tranquillity of small-town life.

Nel said her mother worked for the erstwhile Mains Pharmacy in Port Alfred in her early 20s, and after that worked for a long time at the old market in Pascoe Crescent.

“She got married to Kenneth Waters when she was 26, in 1938. I was born later that year, and my sister Lynette was born 2 ½ years later,” said Nel. “She also had a son Hubert, who died when he was 21.”

She said her mother also worked at the Santa TB Hospital for many years, and her husband Kenneth was a psychiatric nurse at the Port Alfred mental hospital from a young age until he retired.

But even after retirement he went to work at D&A Timbers for 10 years.

Julia and Kenneth moved to Port Elizabeth about 25 years ago, but only stayed there three years.

“Living in a city was so different to a little town,” said Nel. “She and dad led a very quiet life.”

Kenneth died 20 years ago.

About seven years ago Waters went to live with Nel’s family in Port Elizabeth, but only stayed six months, deciding that she preferred Port Alfred.

Waters’ two brothers, Reg and Walter Bisset, are both still alive, now in their 90s.

She also had a sister, Alicia Schnetler, who died about five years ago. “She would have been 102 now,” said Nel.

Waters has 10 grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren.

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