Reading keeps a sharp mind at 97

Doreen Florence, from Bonteheuwel, celebrated her 97th birthday on Thursday July 20 with family and friends.

Ma Florence, as she is affectionately known, grew up in Woodstock, where she later married James Florence. They had three children: Ursula, Charles and Sandra.

From Woodstock they moved to Claremont, but, after being forcibly removed under apartheid’s Group Areas Act, they ended up in Bonteheuwel more than 50 years ago.

Ma Florence’s granddaughter, Valencia Greenwood, said her grandmother always spoke fondly of her childhood years “when life was simple and people respected and cared for one another”.

She added: “My grandparents were among the first residents in Citrus Street, Bonteheuwel. Ma Florence worked for a sweets factory for a short while, but soon thereafter became a housewife and raised her children.

“She always shared whatever she had with her neighbours and friends, especially the little ones in the street. They knew where to find sandwiches when they were hungry. Even the stray cats had a place to get some food.”

Ms Greenwood said her grandmother was no longer able to attend church but always asked about everyone’s wellbeing.

“What is most remarkable is that she always finds a reason to be thankful and reminds everyone to do the same.”

Ma Florence has a great love for reading. Every day she reads the Bible and the community newspapers.

“When chatting to her, you will soon discover community news that you might not even be aware of. This love for reading keeps her mind sharp and always makes for interesting conversation.

“Our family is so blessed to have her in our lives and thank God for the privilege to share in the life of this awesome woman of strength,” Ms Greenwood said.

Ma Florence has six grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren.