One of Whyalla’s treasurers celebrated a significant milestone this week.
Rita Rehn turned 100 on Wednesday and kicked off a week of celebrations with a special luncheon at the Mayall Place Retirement Village where she lives in her own unit.
Joined by her three children for the lunch, it will be a bigger bash on the weekend when a collection of her seven grandchildren, 12 great grandchildren and one great, great grandchild turn up to help further celebrate.
The birthday party will revolve around an open house and a service at Rita’s Uniting Church.
It sounds like a lot to take in for a centenarian but the spritely Rita looks ready to take it in her stride.
She has been living independently at the retirement village since 2006 after residing at the Meares Street family home for 66 years.
While giving a speech at the lunch, Mayor Lyn Breuer described Rita as one of Whyalla’s valued pioneers.
“It is one of my greatest joys to be able to be able to pay tribute to people like Rita as she celebrates such a wonderful occasion,” Mayor Breuer said.
“She is one of Whyalla’s true pioneers and I’d like to thank her for her service to the community for so many years.
“She truly is a marvel and I look forward to coming back her for 110th .”
Rita moved to Whyalla in 1940 when her husband Malc started working as a crane driver at the shipyards.
Married in 1936 and raising three children – Lois, Geoff and Roslyn – Rita unfortunately lost Malc in 1983 after a long illness but stayed on in Whyalla and continued to be a valued member of the community.
Rita received a card and letter from the Queen along with many other letters from local politicians and dignitaries.
She was also surprised with a visit from a dressed up “Queen and Prince Philip” as they made a big entrance and a lot of fuss over the birthday girl.
As for the secret to her good health and longevity, Rita modestly wasn’t able to shed much light on the matter.
She still attends the Peter Street Uniting Church she has done for the last 77 years, loves living independently in her own unit, plays cards regularly and still loves watching her beloved Adelaide Crows.
Son Geoff said his mum’s unit was ‘just as immaculate as she always kept the family home’.
He said she was famous for constantly sweeping up the leaves around the family home to keep things tidy in her beautifully manicured garden.
“I’ve always tried to do things for myself, I enjoy it,” Rita said.
“I don’t know what the secret is, I just always enjoyed doing things around the place.
“I’d just like to give a big thank you to all the people here helping me celebrate my birthday.”
Rita’s wonderful life
- Born at Cowell on August 9, 1917.
- Married to Malc in 1936
- Three children: Lois (1938), Geoff (1941) and Roslyn (1947).
- 7 grandchildren, 12 great children and 1 great, great grandchild
- Has attended the Peter Street Uniting Church for the past 77 years
- Attended the Salvation Army Home League for more than 60 years
- Attended the Pensioner Club for more than 40 years
- Still loves playing cards, watching football (particularly the Crows), cricket and tennis.
- Followed the Central Whyalla Football Club where husband Malc was awarded life membership for the club and the league for his services to junior football.