Umma’s 99-year milestone

Mary Magdalene Betz, the second-oldest living resident of Kensington, is 99 years old and has had a good life.

Born on 26 August 1919, Umma, as she is affectionately known by her grandchildren and great-grandchildren, recently celebrated her birthday at home with family and friends. “It was truly a wonderful occasion and we all felt really blessed to be able to share the day with her,” says granddaughter, Alison Wells.

Speaking from the Kensington Home for the Aged where she is a resident, Umma says she is happy about her milestone and is living a normal life. “Life has been good but the only challenge has been the wheelchair and I am not able to walk,” she says.

Umma is the second-oldest living person in Kensington, after Dinah Fourie, popularly known as Aunty Dinah, who turned 100 in April.

She is well-known among local residents as a receptionist for the iconic doctors Bloch, Sachs, Wisnowitz and Nel doctors’ surgery in Voortrekker Road where she worked for many years.

“Mama Betz worked for the doctors in Voortrekker Road, on the corner of Sixth Avenue, for many, many years and she was well known because of that throughout the whole of Kensington. She has grown old graciously and we are happy to have her at the home and we wish her all the best for all the years that lie ahead,” says Father Charles Blows, manager of the home.

She has three living children and numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Wells says that at 99, her grandmother is “still funny and enjoys a good laugh”.

“She is a great storyteller and will often sit with us (her grandchildren, grandchildren and great-grandchildren) and reminisce about her childhood. We salute you, Umma – a woman of strength, wisdom and love,” Wells says proudly.

Blows adds: “Mama Betz has been a wonderful mother, a wonderful wife, a beautiful person. We are looking forward to her reaching 100 years. The way she is now, she will definitely see that 100. God bless you, Ma Betz.”