Hard work, healthy living recipe for life

20:07, May 27 2014
Mary Leary
OLD IS GOLD: From left to right, Phyllis Simcic, Gladys Macgibbon, Mary Leary, Sam Leary and Betty Horrell at Glenwood Home celebrate Mary Leary’s 106th birthday.

"I wish they would start on the food," said Mary Leary as she played with the cutlery and waited for her 106th birthday lunch to be served.

Leary did not really care much for conversation until she was fed at Glenwood Home yesterday. Until then, she was willing to nod and listen.

However, with the help of her family, who had come from across New Zealand to celebrate the occasion, she agreed to a conversation. "I am a very fortunate woman to have all these people here. It is also very nice to have a place that backed me up for my birthday."

Turning 106 has not made any difference to the way Leary feels.

"I feel the same way I have always felt," she said.

Leary had six children, of whom five are still alive, and all felt incredibly lucky to have her as their mother.


"She always worked hard. I cannot imagine bringing up six children in the war years," daughter Phyllis Simcic said.

Leary prescribes hard work and healthy habits as the key to a long life. "I did everything. I took it all in my stride. I do not smoke, I do not drink, they certainly knock your body about," she said.

Leary was full of praise for the friendly, warm environment at Glenwood Home.

And her words of advice for the younger generation? Not many.

"I think the younger generation seem to be doing very well already," she said.

Leary is by no means alone in topping 105. Statistics New Zealand media advisor Kelly Mitchell said there were likely to be 20-40 people aged 105 and over currently living in New Zealand. Of those, 20-30 were likely to be women, and fewer than 10 men.

There are 500 to 600 people throughout the country who have celebrated their 100th birthdays.

The Timaru Herald