100th Celebration Mrs Mabel Rutherford
On 18 July, 2018, the Little Sisters of the Poor Home in Dunedin had the joy of celebrating the 100th birthday of Mrs. Mabel Rutherford.
Mabel, known as “May” was born on 18 July 1918 in Milton New Zealand as Mabel Emily Moffitt. She bore her mother’s name. Her parents were Robert Moffitt and Mabel Emily Moffitt. May was the 5th and youngest child following three sisters and one brother. Her parents also raised two adopted daughters.
Her childhood was a happy one. Her father worked as a farmer, sheriff and the deputy mayor of Milton. She was always very close to her sisters and once they were grown and left home they used to phone each other every day, especially when one or the other of them was working on a crossword puzzle and they couldn’t find the answer.
When May was 14 she left school to go to work at the Milton Woolen Mill. She helped to make socks and blankets for the soldiers during World War II. She always loved music and played the piano for the local band.
May married Jim Rutherford on July 1st 1944 on a snowy winter day. Her husband was from Hillend, New Zealand and the wedding photo shows a very handsome young man. Before the war Jim had worked on a farm, but afterwards he learned plumbing and he and his boss invented and patented the novel invention of continuous spouting, (guttering).
The young couple moved to Invercargill and had two sons, Jimmy and Max. Besides raising her boys, May was always busy with either baking, sewing, knitting or some other craft work.
She also was also always very hospitable. No visitor would leave her home without a piece of cake and something to drink, (and very often something from her husband’s vegetable garden).
May was always thinking of others and endeared herself to many.
As the years went by the family grew and she had the joy of welcoming six grandchildren, 13 greatgrandchildren and 1 great-great grandchild, (so far).
In 1992 May and Jim moved back to Milton to be closer to her family. Jim died in on the 9th of June 1999.
May continued to live alone in their home until March 2018 when her health deteriorated and she began to require 24 hour nursing care. She moved into the Sacred Heart Home of the Little Sisters of the Poor in Dunedin and is, according to her family, “quite spoilt by lovely people”.
For several days before the celebration on the 18th, May was more tired than usual and slept quite a bit. There was a fear that she may not make it to the big day. But, always determined, May roused just in time on the morning of the 18th.
Her family decided that a simple celebration with close family members, the residents and the staff would be enough. It was decided that all of the residents would have their lunch together in the large and beautiful lounge of the infirmary which boasts of a magnificent panoramic view of the sea and the mountains.
The lounge was festively decorated with multiple colored balloons with “100” printed on them. Flowers were abundant and a table was set up for the many cards bringing wishes from all over. The highlight was the reception of the card containing the congratulations from her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth. May’s son Max donned a mask of the queen in order to present the card to his mother. She didn’t quite know what to make of her son’s transformation!
Throughout the meal a slide presentation containing photos of May throughout much of her life was playing on the large screen television. The song, “What a Wonderful World” played in the background.
After the meal, some of the residents returned to their rooms, and others stayed to enjoy a lovely sing-a-long with an accordion player that the family had invited to the celebration. May herself, remained very content to find herself surrounded by her loving family and friends. She had waited patiently for this day and enjoyed every moment of it!