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Woman born in Belfast before sinking of the Titanic passes away at grand old age of 105

By Laura Abernethy

Published 28/01/2016

Zerna Pake helped to bring up her niece and nephew
Zerna Pake helped to bring up her niece and nephew

One of Northern Ireland's oldest women has died at the age of 105.

Zerna Pake passed away peacefully at Mount Lens nursing home last Saturday after a life that spanned almost 11 decades.

The Belfast woman was born in 1910, the year King Edward VII died and just two years before the Titanic sank on its maiden voyage.

Her niece, Doris Clyde, said: "She was well-loved and will be sadly missed by all her family.

"She was a very caring and loving person. She was a meticulous housekeeper. She loved cooking, baking and entertaining friends.

"She cared about the whole family and did her best to keep everybody happy."

At her 105th birthday celebrations, Zerna said the secret to her long, happy life was that she never married, had no children and never drank or smoked but always kept a good sense of humour.

Zerna was hugely dedicated to her family and cared for her mother until she died at the age of 99. She was very close to her nieces and nephews.

Doris said she owed her aunt an awful lot as Zerna had helped to keep her and her twin brother Dessy alive when they were born prematurely at their home in September 1940.

"We were very premature and nobody even knew we were going to be twins," she added.

"My brother Dessy weighed 2lb 5 ounces and I weighed 3lb 5 ounces. Thanks to auntie Zerna and her sister, Violet, we made it.

"They kept us in a makeshift bed made out of a drawer and fed us with a fountain pen.

"My brother was very weak and they were not sure if he was going to survive. They were very patient with him and spent a lot of time helping him."

Dessy survived and helped to look after Zerna and her brother, Jim, until Dessy died in January 2010. Zerna moved to Mount Lens Nursing home later that year.

She was also very close to her brother and they enjoyed travelling to England, Scotland and Switzerland together until his death at the age of 96 in 2010.

She maintained a strong Christian faith throughout her life and had attended Knock Methodist Church in her later years, where her funeral will be held on Friday.

Doris said: "She was a very religious and devout woman. In her later years, she was an active member of Knock, but I remember her going to Ormeau Road Methodist Church as well. She was a very active member of the choir and she loved to sing hymn music."

The funeral service will begin at 12pm at Knock Methodist Church and Zerna will be buried at Bangor Cemetery at 2pm.

Belfast Telegraph

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