Plumstead’s oldest resident turns 104

From left, Debbie Pineo, Helen Goodwin, Jenny McCalgan, Leeco Jim, Margaret Ellis, Fungai Chipfunde, Anthea Klugman and 2-year-old Daniel Tarr.

Plumstead resident Margaret Ellis celebrated her 104th birthday on Friday April 29.

Plumstead Neighbourhood Watch committee members Anthea Klugman and Jenny McCalgan, representing the chairman Gary Klugman, delivered flowers and a home-made candle and cake.

The watch has been searching for the oldest person in the community to celebrate Plumstead’s 260th anniversary with it (“Celebrating Plumstead’s 260th anniversary,” Bulletin April 7).

World War I was still raging when Ms Ellis, nee Jones, was born in Glasgow on April 29 1918. Her father was a jockey for the Rothschild family. She was just 7 when her mother died, but she spent many happy holidays with cousins on farms in Scotland and with an aunt who owned a seaside hotel in West Kilbride.

During World War II, she married a soldier and joined the Red Cross in Glasgow as a volunteer tending the wounded during the air raids. One night, on the way to where she worked, the place was bombed. Ms Ellis’s sister’s boyfriend was pilot and died in the war.

Ms Ellis came to South Africa by ship in 1949 at the age of 28. She later divorced her husband and moved to Plumstead from about 1951. She loved the suburb because of its views of the mountains, she said.

Ms Ellis lived in Somerset West from 1992 until 2001 and then returned to Plumstead in 2001 to live with her daughter, Helen, and son-in-law, Chris Goodwin.

For many years, Ms Ellis worked in the clothing industry and later became an estate agent.

One of her favourite past-times has been Scottish country dancing, and while living in Windhoek, Namibia, in 1983, she started a group of country dancers there.

Visiting from Namibia, family friend Debbie Pineo said Ms Ellis loved Scrabble and would include Scottish terms and could still place her letters on the board without shaking and crossing the lines.

On her 100th birthday, Ms Ellis received a congratulatory card from Queen Elizabeth II (“Library birthday bash for Plumstead resident who turned 100,” Bulletin May 10, 2018).

Mr Goodwin said that Ms Ellis was now quite frail and very hard of hearing and her sight was not great, but she always enjoyed a conversation with visitors.

Ms Ellis has two grandsons, one living in Colorado Springs, America, where she also has one great grandson. Her other grandson lives in Toronto, Canada.

Margaret Ellis with friend Beatrice Cochran.
Margaret Ellis aged 31 or 32.