Isobel celebrates a century

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Long-time Elphin Lodge resident Isobel Kohll celebrated her 100th birthday on 13 November and enjoyed a lovely birthday tea arranged by her sons, Malcolm and Jeffrey, on 12 November.

Born in Boksburg North in 1922, she has lived through a century of change and seen more of life than most people ever will.

Isobel had three brothers – Julius, Alex and Harold – and a sister, Joyce.

She met her husband, Raymond, through Alex, and they were married in 1947.

Shortly after Isobel met Raymond, her sister met Raymond’s brother Edgar and they too were married.

Isobel and Raymond emigrated to Zimbabwe in 1962 and, after many years, returned to Johannesburg where they lived in Hillbrow until Raymond passed away in 2001.

Isobel then moved to Rand Aid’s Elphin Lodge retirement village, where she has been living for the past 21 years.

“The most important things in life are tolerance, understanding, sympathy and developing an interest in people,” says Isobel, who advises younger generations to always be kind and understanding and to find the good in people.

“I couldn’t have chosen a better place to live than Elphin Lodge. I didn’t know this part of world at all when I moved here. The staff, without exception, are always kind and understanding. They always have a smile and we have a good old to-do,” she says.

As Isobell always wanted to travel, she worked at a travel agency to benefit from discounted tickets and travelled to many places around the world.

She was also an actress and dancer and taught speech and drama to hundreds of young men and women across the East Rand. People still speak of her fondly about their years as her pupil.

“Mom has lived through astounding changes, but has remained the loving, generous and lively mother, grandmother and great-grandmother she has always been,” says Jeffrey.

Malcolm describes his mom as a fixture, a presence, a somebody that everybody knows. And for all the right reasons.

“They say of some people that they light up a room when they enter, and mom certainly did that… As she has moved through life to become the matriarch of the family, she continues to bring that stability and support that she always has. She’s like the Queen, without the Corgis,” adds Malcolm.

Isobel took up painting in her 90s and still plays a mean game of Scrabble. “She loves music and dance and theatre, and it’s heartening to see those passions that inflamed the young girl from Boksburg North are now, 100 years later, still present,” says Malcolm.