Union Island is celebrating its newest centenarian, Ruth Ferary-Mitchell.
Miss Ruth or Tanti Ruth, as she is fondly called by young and old, was born in Union Island on April 18, 1920.
Her parents were Adelaide (mother Noble) and Jonas Ferary.
Her family lived in Jerome and Ferary-Mitchell attended the Ashton Village Government School.
The headmaster at that time was Mr. Archer, who was also the local preacher at the St. Mathias Anglican Choir, where Ferary-Mitchell attended and sang in the choir.
After completing her School Leaving Exam in Standard 6, she went to learn tailor-ing with Mother Hazell. Subsequently she learnt dressmaking with Mrs. Mulraine. She became very skilled in sewing and needlework, making pants, jackets and dresses for many people.
There was a need for midwives in St. Vincent and the Grenadines so Ferary-Mitchell went to St. Vincent in 1946 to do the six-month midwifery course. There were four stu-dents in training on the Maternity Ward. One of the requirements was that each student had to deliver 10 babies then take an exam to complete the course.
After delivering only six babies she was allowed to take the exam and passed it. She then took the exam to do three-year programme in general nursing. She worked as a nurse for 12 years in St. Vincent first during training at the then Colonial Hospital . She also worked as a district nurse at two clinics — Campden Park and the other Lowmans Windward. She worked at the Colonial Hospital Kings-town rising to the esteemed position as ward sister.
In 1961, she applied for and was accepted for a nursing position at the Lutheran Hospital in New York. Therefore, on Nov. 18, 1961 Ferary-Mitchell resigned from the hospi-tal in St. Vincent. She traveled to New York where she took up the position at the Lutheran Hospital in January 1962.
Throughout her career, she worked in the Pediatric and Maternity departments She said she enjoyed working in New York. However, she never took a second job as many of her friends did, she did not accumulate a lot of stuff, she never bought a house nor a car.
Her ultimate goal was always to return to Union Island.
She recalls some very interesting stories while living in New York.
One night on her way home from work a man tried to rob her. She used her um-brella and broke his arm
Ironically, he went to the emergency room of the same hospital where she worked to get medical attention.
Ferary-Mitchell learned about this and was extremely amused.
On another occasion, she encountered a man who tried to steal her handbag. She tried to ward him off by hitting him with her walking stick. He fell in the snow and was pleading for mercy while returning the purse. It was then she said, “It’s okay take the purse”, knowing that she had her keys and wallet in her pocket.
Ferary-Mitchell retired in 1985.
Around that time she retired, Ferary-Mitchell received a love letter from Augustus King Mitchell stating that he was once again free and single and want to know if she was interested in renewing the past relationship.
In her youth King and Ferary-Mitchell were in love with each other. He wanted to marry her but circumstances prevented them from getting married.
On receiving King’s letter, Ferary-Mitchell was more than thrilled and decided to renew their old relationship. She returned to Union Island, they got married, and lived togeth-er for more than 30 years. She attributes her long life to her belief in God.
She is a faithful member of St. Mathias Anglican Church in Ashton and sings in the choir from time to time.
Over the past 50 years, Union Island has celebrated its fair share of centenarians.
Traditionally, these individuals are honoured with greetings from Her Majesty the Queen of England and the Government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
Among them were: Beatrice Samuel (Si B) died at age 107, Lenora Wilson (Tanty Ma) age 106, Mabelle James, age 103, Constance Scrubb, age 100+, Janey Stewart-Douglas, age 100, Augustus King Mitchell, age 100, Josephine St. Ignace (daughter of Ma Jo) born in Union Island and living in Trinidad — age 102