Centenarian praised for zest for life

Milicent Gardiner, with her daughters, Jean Rhom, left, and Stephanie Ace, right.

Milicent Gardiner, Pinewood Retirement Village’s first centenarian, celebrated her milestone 104th birthday on Friday October 16 with her two daughters and friends at the home.

Ms Gardiner was born in Karibib, Namibia, but the family later moved to Tamboerskloof, where she attended primary and high school.

After matriculating, she worked at Southern Life and for the Voluntary Aid Detachment during World War II.

Her father, Carl Baard, moved his family home to 31 Upper Rhine Road, Sea Point, and Ms Gardiner married Arthur Edwin Gardiner on July 25 1942 in the Sea Point Congregational Church.

The couple lived in Sea Point until 1948 when they moved to Pinelands before the birth of their second daughter. Her husband died in 2008 at the age of 93 due to complications from a fall.

The couple had two daughters, Jean and Stephanie, and three grandchildren, Carla, Drew and Jeanne, and five great-grandchildren Miko, Jade, Stella, Mia and Tara.

Her daughter, Jean Rohm, said her parents had moved to Pinewood Village as founder residents of Aloe Close Assisted Living in 2001 and later moved to Aloe Close Advanced Care in 2018.

“She is testimony to the loving and attentive care she receives from the dedicated nursing team attending to her, always ready with a comical quip in either English or her ‘moedertaal’ Afrikaans, often alternating sentences between the two,” she said.

Pinewood Village’s Chantel Sirakis said Ms Gardiner’s zest for life was a reminder that life was a gift.

Ms Sirakis said that shortly before Mr Gardiner had died, he had said: “Mil will join me in six months”, and on reminding Ms Gardiner of that recently, she had remarked that he would have to wait as she was still extremely happy where she was.

Ms Rohm said her mother was an inspiration to all her family, instilling in them her “never say die” attitude and appreciation of life’s beauty, always playing Pollyanna’s The Glad Game and being a free thinker.

“We are blessed to have her as our one-in-a-million matriarch with her ‘light up a room’ smile.”