Essie’s 103 years full of fun, achievement
Essie King loved to gather up her grandchildren when they were young and head for the Longlands railway crossing just out of Hastings.
There, they would watch and wave at the shunting trains.
As daughter Greta Crist put it “the train drivers would toot at the lady and the excited young children in the light mustard Cortina.”
Essie drove a car up until the age of 98.
She loved life and family, and lived to the grand age of 103 – passing away last month just two months away from her 104th birthday.
Apart from spending the first eight years of her life in Mercer where she was born in 1902, Essie lived in Hawke’s Bay and became a well known identity in Hastings through her association with community and social groups.
She had been the second youngest in a family of 10 and along with younger sister Lucy came to Hawke’s Bay to be raised by their childless aunt and uncle, Marguerite and Nathaniel Beamish.
She loved the rural life at their Onga Onga home although her sister grew homesick and returned to Mercer.
After moving to Hastings she was educated at St Joseph’s Convent where her talent as a singer and pianist were nurtured, gaining her letters in both.
She often performed at concerts staged at the Municipal Theatre (now Hawke’s Bay Opera House).
In 1928 she married Thomas King who later started a grocery business.
They had two children, Marguerite (Greta) and Derek.
Essie was a founder member of the Hastings Women’s Community Club in 1924, and was an active member in bridge and drama circles.
She was awarded life membership in 1988.
Keen on sport, she joined the Heretaunga Women’s Bowling Club in the early 1950s. She loved entering into the spirit of the club’s fun days.
“Of pleasure was the drink with her playing companions after the game, and it was usually then that she told a joke she had been saving for just such and occasion,” daughter Greta said.
She said that her mother, right through into her later years, would get up in the middle of the night to watch the All Blacks if they were playing in the northern hemisphere.
She spent the last six years of her life happily living at Brittany House.
Her daughter said she held firm the Catholic faith and had been a parishioner of Sacred Heart Church for 98 years.
“She died peacefully and with the sure knowledge she would meet her maker.”
Essie King is survived by her two children, five grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
Photo caption – FULL OF FUN: Essie King on her 100th birthday.