Rosa King has been told that she is the oldest woman living in Summerland and she very well may be. On Dec 26, King will be 103 years old.
She was born in Munich, Germany in 1913.
Her mother travelled there, gave birth and then returned to Switzerland, leaving her baby to be raised with a foster mother. To King, her foster mother was her true mom.
“She was my love,” explained King. “I loved her dearly.”
Although poor, King feels she had a good life. She enjoyed school and learned well, completing 12 grades.
When King was 18 years old, her foster mother died while in her arms. This was only the beginning of tragedy and loss for this young woman.
In the prime of her life, married with children of her own, World War II broke out.
“I’ve been through the war. I lost my four boys and my husband in the bombing,” King explained. “I was in the country with a friend, getting food from a farmer I knew. We were on our bikes, on the way home, when I said ‘Oh my, look at all the bombers! They are coming to the city!’ That was our city and they were all bombed. There were 367 people dead. There was nothing left.”
King said she passed out when she learned her family were all gone. She spent the next three months in the hospital, recovering from the shock.
When she was well enough the doctor asked her to stay on and help others in the hospital, which she did for the next year.
One wonders how King was able to survive such loss and grief.
“I was ready to do away with myself too,” she said. “I couldn’t do it. You live, you just live.”
After the war, now all alone in the world, King decided to come to Canada. She made a life for herself in Brooks, Alberta and later moved to Calgary where she worked for Safeway for 15 years.
It was there that she met William King, who worked as a mechanic for the city and they married.
King recalls that as being one of her happiest days.
“He was a good man,” she said. “We had a very good marriage. I was very happy.”
For recreation the couple enjoyed travelling around Canada and the United States in their motor-home. King said her favourite place of all was Radium Hot Springs, where they camped many times.
Once they were retired, they moved here to Summerland, where her husband’s folks lived at the time and they bought a home on Dunham Crescent.
After 34 wonderful years together, King’s husband died in 1982.
It was only then that King finally learned to drive a car at the urging of her neighbour who taught her how.
She remained on her own for several years before selling her home and for the last few years, she has been living at the Prairie Valley Lodge care home.
“I love it here,” she said. “There’s good food, I have my own room and I get along with everyone. It’s a nice home and it’s warm.”
King said that her life had changed so much over the years that there was an unbelievable amount of things she had forgotten. She has lost some sight and can no longer read, but still has overall good health and is able to enjoy visiting with others.
“I love my friends,” she said. “They are important to me.”
When asked what she attributes her longevity to, King replied,
“I eat good and I drink. I love coffee.”
More importantly, King never fights with anyone.
“I don’t believe in fights,” she said. “When I don’t approve of something, I keep my trap shut. I don’t get involved.”
Dreaming is a big part of King’s life these days.
“I have lots of dreams,” she explained. “I dream about my early life when I was young.”
After living for almost 103 years, King was happy to share what she believes to be the most important thing in life.
“Get along good, have friends and have fun. I like fun.”