Norma Hugo, of Rondebosch, celebrated her 100th birthday with her family and close friends on Saturday.
She was born on October 10 1920 in Pretoria and later moved to Pietermaritzburg.
When Pietermaritzburg Girls’ High School celebrated its 99th birthday last year it ran a feature on its former head girl, who also had her 99th birthday that year.
This year, the school’s and Ms Hugo’s celebrations had to be adjusted due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Ms Hugo was 20 when she married her husband, Elias, on November 30 1940. The couple had two sons, Pierre and Norman, in Pietermaritzburg, before moving to Cape Town.
Mr Hugo died in a car accident in 2003.
Ms Hugo has spent close to 65 years in her Milner Road home, which is filled with memories of her family.
Her son, Pierre, 75, came down from Johannesburg for the intimate family gathering and said he was happy to be able to celebrate his mother’s milestone birthday with her.
“My mom’s second name, Pearl, and maiden surname, Island, is the most perfect description of the person she is. She and my dad had a good life, and she lasted all these years on her own,” he said.
Pierre said his parents had never been sickly people and while his mother was a bit frail and had lost some of her hearing, she never complained.
Her neighbour and friend, Marilyn Peters, said the two had become close after her cat had been run over and the Hugos had mistakenly thought it was their cat and had buried it, only for their cat to have shown up later.
Ms Peters worked as a school librarian and said the two shared a love for reading.
“We are passionate about the same things. Norma is the brightest and ‘sparkliest’ gem,” she said.
Ms Hugo’s family are spread across the country with her one son living with her, another in Johannesburg and her grandchildren in Spain, England and Durban.
She last saw her family in March when they visited for the wedding of her grandchild.
Hilary Finck has been Ms Hugo’s caregiver since 2015.
“Her hearing has gone, but she still reads and writes,” she said.
Ms Hugo was loved by all and had a very caring nature, Ms Finck said.