A Waikato family celebrates Jesse Jones’ 100th birthday

100-year-old Jessie Jones (centre) celebrates at Te Awamutu with her sisters Vera, 96 (left) and Clara, 98, and her brother Jim, 94. Photography: Kate Dorey

Jessie Jones’ friends and family gathered on Friday, September 15, to celebrate her 100th birthday.

She is described as a loving wife, partner and family woman, a devoted royal, very religious, loves to go bowling, and is an amazing baker and cake decorator for all special occasions for family and friends.

Jessie Pearson Osborne was born in Hamilton on 15 September 1923, to Les (known as L.G.) and Mary Beryl (a young Scottish girl). Jessie was the first of six children from LG’s second marriage, and had four half-brothers from his first marriage.

The family farmed at Tohikaramia and Jessie went to school at Te Kōhai for two years and Hangateki for a year, before her family bought a farm at Mangautaki in 1930 near Piopio.


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In the book Area Reunion, Jesse’s contribution is titled “Moving to the Valley.” “My mother traveled in the furniture truck, before my father and our children in the car. Somewhere on the other side of the Mangautaki Gorge Bridge, the car slid into the water and got stuck. My father went to the farm to get help and I started walking with the rest of the family. For Jim (child He is less than 2 years old) Things were difficult, he started crying. What can I do? At the corner, I saw a wheelbarrow of one of the road workers. We put Vera and Jim in this and started pushing. We pushed, rested and pushed again. Eventually, he met us Dad. It wasn’t long before more tears were being shed – where were we going to live? Finally we arrived at a corrugated iron house. It had a big chimney and was surrounded by trees. This was our home for the next nine years.

“Nine happy and wonderful years.” I wrote.

As the eldest Jessie had the task of getting all the children to safety along this bumpy road. It was a perfect example of her attitude throughout her life – being there to help others, especially family, accepting responsibility and being a strong spirit.

In Mangautaki, Jessie was making sure all the kids got to and from school…all six on one horse.


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In 1939 the family moved to Bukuru, first to Jim Carle’s estate (now Stuart Alexander Golf Course) and then to Goose Kandy on Kandy Road.

Five years later, Jessie’s mother bought the tea rooms in Biobio and moved back there, while Jessie kept the house for LG so it could turn over at the end of the season. Soon after, on June 21, 1944, 20-year-old Jessie married Bruce Boswell.

The couple farmed 55 acres on Bukuru Factory Road in conjunction with Bruce’s father’s 79-acre farm next door. Jesse and Bruce had two sons, Graham and Malcolm, while on the farm.

Jessie Jones celebrates her 100th birthday in Te Awamutu.  Photography: Kate Dorey
Jessie Jones celebrates her 100th birthday in Te Awamutu. Photography: Kate Dorey

In 1953, ill health forced Bruce to leave the farm and he and Jesse built a new house on Ponyo Road. Bruce began driving milk tankers and working part-time for Osbornes Transport as his health allowed. By this time, Jessie had already developed her cake decorating skills, and Bruce built her a special rack in the hot water cupboard where the iced cakes could be placed to dry.

She also collected books about the royal family, her favorite being the recently crowned Queen Elizabeth II.

Later in life, Jessie commented that she would like to be 100 so she could receive a card from Her Majesty.

A big hole was left in Jessie’s life when her mother died on Christmas Eve 1953. She had a special relationship with her mother, and as the eldest of the second Osborne family, played a large role in caring for and raising her younger siblings and stepchildren. Sisters.

Jessie was often heard saying, “That’s what my mother taught me.” She always treated everyone with deep love and respect, just as her mother taught her.

In 1955, Jesse and Bruce’s third son, Noel, was born.

Since the early 1960s, Jessie meticulously kept a daily diary that demonstrated her attention to detail and daily chores as well as the regular cooking and cleaning required to care for her husband and children—darning socks, shortening pants, filing, and decorating cakes—as well as her involvement in numerous community activities, including church and kindergarten. Boys’ Brigade, Women’s Rural Institute, School and Bowling.


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Bruce and Jessie spent many happy weekends in their caravan at Elizabeth Gardens on Mt Maunganui. Apparently Bruce would often say: “One day we’ll own this.”

In May 1969 that day arrived. Jessie was not happy about being away from Te Awamutu at first and recorded that she was soaked all the way up the mountain and did not want to talk, but she soon got down to business and came to enjoy her four years as ‘camp mother’ – writing that ‘I loved every minute of it’.

Bruce’s declining health led to the camp being sold in 1973. Three years later Jessie lost the love of her life when Bruce died.

In July 1977 Jessie set off on a four-month world tour. The place she most wanted to visit was the village of Leslie, north of Edinburgh in Scotland, where her mother was born.

Jessie described this visit as one of the most memorable times of her life. Her diary notes that she celebrated by purchasing a red dress there for £9.

Jessie eventually returned to Te Awamutu and spent nine enjoyable years with her partner Trevor Murphy following horses, fishing and traveling locally and abroad.


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Her faith was tested again when she was in Darwin for her son Noel’s wedding in July 1987 and Trevor died.

Te Awamutu Bowling Club became her haven. John Jones was also looking for company after the recent death of his wife.

They became a couple, and John used to say that it was amazing for him to meet Jessie and that she responded to his rather clumsy flirtation efforts.

They were married at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church on March 17, 1990, and had their reception at the Bowling Club – two places to which they continued to give much time and energy and, in return, much enjoyment and fellowship.

While they both had health issues, their faith and devotion to each other meant they were able to overcome and embrace any hardship during their 31 years together.

They had many friends, and she loved being a homemaker for her husband, as well as doing things for others.


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Jessie was active and busy until she began to lose her sight and hearing.

Following a fall in July 2020, Jessie was transferred to Tarahill Rest Home for respite care.

John made the difficult decision that Jessie could be better cared for at the facility, and although the separation was not easy for either of them, the care Jessie received was more than compensatory.

Sadly, less than a year later, John died in hospital after a fall. Once again, Jessie felt sad.

She continued to receive care at Tarahill until it closed and is now lovingly cared for at Beattie Home in Ōtorohanga.

She celebrated her 100th birthday with friends and family, including her sisters Vera, 96, and Clara, 98, and brother Jim, 94.


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