The death last week of redoubtable nursing sister Evelyn Christie at the age of 97 thins the ranks of those early nursing sisters of the south whose careers were vocations uninterrupted by the demands of marriage and families.
Born at Fortrose in 1916, to Charles and Kate Christie, Evelyn had an older brother, Norman, and a younger brother, Ian.
She was the female dux at Middle School in Invercargill in 1926 and later went on to take up a nursing career at Kew Hospital where she studied and passed her nursing exams with distinction, was added to the Register of Nurses on August 19, 1949, and in 1950 passed her maternity exams.
She nursed for almost 40 years, teaching and in management, retiring at the age of 60.
After the death of her father Evelyn moved with her mother to Elizabeth St in Invercargill, living together until her death in December 1967 at the age of 90.
When Evelyn could no longer manage the large gardens she moved to Maitland St and in her nineties to the Peacehaven rest home to enable her to remain in St Andrew's Presbyterian parish where she had long been involved.
The Reverend Nyalle Paris who had known and valued her for seven years took her funeral service in the Peacehaven chapel and spoke of her goodness and devotion to her family and her faith.
Nursing was a big part of her life but so was travel, throughout New Zealand in her car and overseas. Before she retired she had travelled to the United States, Thailand, Hong Kong and Fiji. Later she visited China and in 1985 spent time in Britain and western Europe.
She had a host of nursing buddies and with hobbies of spinning and weaving, gardening and playing her organ was always good company.
Her faith was important to her and a large part of her life, as was her wide extended family.
She was deeply saddened at the passing of her brothers, Norman in 1994 and Ian in 2009.
After the service at Peacehaven she was laid to rest with her family at Fortrose.
With no children of her own, the families of her brothers were dear to her and the host of nieces and nephews who visited were proof of that.
As one of them Bernice Hassed, of Queenstown, said, Evelyn was the matriarch who kept the family together.
"Many in the nursing fraternity could remember her as a tough task master but underneath that sometimes stern exterior was a warm heart.
"She cared for us all and made a great effort to keep people together, the loss of her brothers, our fathers, a cause of real grief."
- © Fairfax NZ News