Brave, kind and witty... tributes as Ellie Lawther is laid to rest, aged 109
A Belfast woman who has died aged 109 was fondly remembered as a "brave, kind, cheerful, funny and generous lady" at her funeral yesterday.
Born the eldest of six children in 1909, Ellie Lawther - who lived in east Belfast her whole life - saw Northern Ireland came into existence, the Titanic being built and lived through two world wars.
As was typical for her generation, she left school at 14 to train as a stitcher and took great pride in the clothes she made for family and friends.
She died last Saturday in the Royal Victoria Hospital, Belfast after suffering a fall.
Her family said she was certainly the oldest person in Northern Ireland and possibly in all of Ireland.
Rev Maureen Hazzard led the service at Roselawn Crematorium.
"She was a special lady who touched lives from the youngest to the oldest. She was a lady who might have been very small in stature but very determined and fiercely independent," she said.
"So she's remembered now for her twinkly eyes and mischievous smile."
She added that her high standards as a seamstress stayed with her until the very end.
"I was told that last week in the Royal she made her way to the side of somebody's bed and looked at the stitching on the sheet and said, 'That would never have passed in my day'.
"I think she knew a lot about recycling and upcycling long before it was ever invented."
Mrs Lawther married her late husband Harold in 1933, setting up home in St Jude's Crescent. They had three children, six grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren.
She spent her last 24 years at St Finnian's House on the Cregagh Road. A number of her carers were among those paying their respects yesterday.
"She was safe and secure with you and that was in no small way due to the way you loved her," said Rev Hazzard.
"Fred (her son) told me a lovely story. When people brought her garments with a tear in them, she would rip them out and wind the wool round their hands and would reknit something new and lovely out of something old.
"She would've chatted about why she had lived so long, but in her own words she said it was God's will and it's whatever he decides to do. Ellie was a brave, kind, cheerful, funny and generous lady.
"She was also very stylish. We met just two years ago, but in all that time I never saw a hair out of place, thanks to her hairdresser Pat. You were a very important person in her life. She was always very colour coordinated as she sat like a queen in the corner looking over the Cregagh Road."