The family of Elma Pearsall says she lived her life simply, but in the most remarkable way.
It was with great sadness that her family announced the passing of Mrs Pearsall on October 18 at 99-years-old. She was buried on October 27, her funeral was held in Harden at St Anthony's Catholic Church and she was interned at the Harden Lawn Cemetery.
Her simple way of living was her most powerful attribute, her obituary read.
"She was her families' constant. She loved nothing more than having all her family around and her love and care extending out beyond her own.
"She will always be remembered for her generosity, warmth and kindness."
Mrs Pearsall was born in Rye Park and grew up on the family property at Flakeney Creek, Pudman. She was the daughter of Leslie and Amelia Russell and the eldest of seven children.
The Russell family was one of the first Aboriginal families to be granted land. Their home at Flakeney Creek became a place to call home for the many generations that followed, it was the heart of the family history.
"Elma grew up on the family property at Pudman attending the Pudman School of which she had fond memories. She walked to school rain hail or shine. Elma had beautiful handwriting and was an excellent scholar.
"She loved swimming in the Pudman creek, playing tennis, and going to dances with her brothers and sisters."
After finishing her education Mrs Pearsall moved to Sydney for work, but, she said she always missed home. On her return to Pudman, she would take on work which included cleaning and caring for the children of local families.
Mrs Pearsall had three daughters from her first marriage, Lynne, Jan and Donna. They lived in Gunning before moving to Goulburn where she worked in aged care at Kenmore and Waminda Hospitals.
It was on a trip to Pudman that she ran into Ervin Pearsall, at the Rye Park Centennial, Mr Pearsall was her childhood sweetheart.
"After many phone calls, letters and visits they decided to marry. They married at Ervin's Harden property Clearview, Elma gained two more children, step-daughter Ruth and step-son Ken."
They enjoyed travelling around Australia and shared many adventures together, her family said.
Forced to sell Clearview due to Mr Pearsall's ill health they moved to Tuross Heads. Their nine-grandchildren fondly remember the wonderful family time spent at both properties.
Her love of baking, cooking and spending time with her family was something she relished over her years.
"Elma was a great home-maker and an excellent cook," the obituary read.
"She was well known for her banana cakes and her mother's Christmas pudding that she has passed on through the family and is still made every year.
"You could always tell the time by when Elma had her cups of tea. She loved a cuppa so much!"
Later, Mrs Pearsall moved to Boorowa this is where she lived for around the last 20 years and she forged many strong friendships there.
Mrs Pearsall's great love for her family and friends would stir her interest in recording her history.
It was during this time that she discovered she shared a deep family history, going back as far as five generations. This history is documented in many books, as well as her local knowledge of the Pudman and Flakeney Creek areas, and her years at the Pudman School.
In 2013, at 92-years-old she was interviewed for a program produced by Kris Kerehona called The Centenarians: embracing the coming of age. The film celebrated the lives of five people, including Mrs Pearsall who at the time was the oldest living Ngunnawal elder. The film was commissioned by the ACT Division of the Australian Association of Gerontology as part of its celebration of Canberra's Centenary.
Mrs Pearsall enjoyed good health all her life, which she would credit to playing tennis when she was younger, as well as having never smoked or drank.
"She would say that is why she lived so long."
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She loved talking to her grandchildren about her childhood and growing up in Pudman and she always longed to return.
"It was her happy place. It was a home she never forgot."
Her family was looking forward to celebrating her centenary in April 2021.
"So many memories and stories of a life well-lived.
"Her friends and family will never forget. The family will ensure to pass on her knowledge and continue to celebrate their family heritage for generations to come," her obituary read.
Elma Josephine Pearsall, nee. Russell, April 11, 1921 - October 18, 2020
The daughter of Leslie and Amelia Russell (nee Brown) of Flakeney Creek Pudman. Mrs Pearsall was the eldest of seven children, four brothers Clarrie, Basil, Darcy and Ray, and two sisters Joan and Robyn.
She had three children, nine grandchildren, 25 great-grandchildren, and seven great-great-grandchildren.
Mrs Pearsall contributed to these books:
- Beyond the Borders - An Anecdotal History of the Hume and Related Pioneering Families, author: Jennifer Hume Macdougall and Prudence Grieve
- The Pajong and Wallabalooa - A History of the Aboriginal Farming Families at Blakney and Pudman Creeks, author: Ann Jackson-Nakano
- Wiradjuri Places - The Murrumbidgee River Basin with a section on the Ngunawal Country, author: Peter Rimas Kabaila
- The Blackboard in the Bush - Pudman Creek School & Public Education in NSW, author: Philip Hobbs
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