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The end of two long lives: Mary Millar (107) and Arthur Arthur Norris (100)

By Adrian Rutherford

Published 03/07/2015

Mary Millar
Mary Millar
Arthur Norris

Tributes have been paid following the death of Northern Ireland's oldest woman.

Mary Millar, who passed away on Wednesday, was 107.

Born in 1907, she watched the Titanic on its sea trials as a child and lived through two World Wars.

Her niece Ruby Wilson said she was remarkable. "She was a gracious woman - one of life's ladies," Ruby told the Belfast Telegraph.

Mary, who was also known as Minnie, passed away at her home at Belmont Avenue in east Belfast.

She left school at the age of 12 and married her late husband James in 1936.

As a five-year-old she watched the Titanic from the front door of her family home.

In an interview with the BBC two years ago, Mary said she remembered it as just another boat.

"I just thought it was just the same as the other boats," she said in 2013.

"We used to see them all going down on the sea trials and the only difference was this one was thought to be unsinkable."

Mary lived in her own home at Belmont Avenue for the last 79 years, right up until her death two days ago.

"She died there - we were able to keep her at home right to the end," added Ruby.

"That was her wish. She never wanted to go into a nursing home. We had carers who helped look after her, and their fantastic care meant she was able to stay in her home."

Ruby said her aunt was very popular.

"She was one of those people who drew others towards her," she added.

Mary remained in remarkably good health despite her advancing years.

"To say that we are proud of her is an understatement," Ruby said.

"She just was an amazing lady. She had all her faculties about her right to the very end."

Her funeral service will take place at St Mark's Parish Church in Dundela at 9am today.

Separately, one of Northern Ireland's oldest men has passed away. Arthur Norris died just days before he would have turned 101.

He was known as one of Ireland's oldest tennis players, only hanging up his racquet last year.

Born on July 10, 1914, Arthur joined Windsor Lawn Tennis Club in Belfast in 1946 and served as club secretary for more than 60 years.

A former RAF serviceman, his armed forces career took him to places including Sierra Leone, South Africa, Liberia, Tangiers and Gibraltar.

Mr Norris passed away peacefully in hospital on Wednesday. His funeral will take place at Christ Church, Derriaghy, on Tuesday.

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