A fond farewell to grand old Bearsden lady (109)

Flo with her namesake, pupil Flora Ritchie at the 100th anniversary of  her school's reunion tea party two years ago
Flo with her namesake, pupil Flora Ritchie at the 100th anniversary of her school's reunion tea party two years ago

Scotland’s oldest woman has passed away at a Bearsden care home at the grand old age of 109.

Mrs Flora Smith passed away at 
Antonine House care home where she had been a resident for the past three years.

Flo, as she liked to be called, shared a birthday with the Queen – April 21 – and had six framed messages from the monarch hanging on her wall at the nursing home.

She died on August 3 and is survived by her son Alastair, who also lives in Bearsden.

Born in Shawlands, Flo was married to husband Alex for 50 years. They wed in 1948 at Glasgow Cathedral and she spent most of her married life living in Clarkston.

The local lady was the oldest surviving alumnus of Hutchesons’ Grammar School in Glasgow, starting at the 
primary school in Kingarth Street during World War I.

Flo would regularly return to the school as its guest of honour and the former captain of the school’s hockey team often celebrated her birthday with senior pupils, who would visit the nursing home.

Two years ago, she was especially pleased to catch up with then S4 pupil Flora Ritchie, who was singing for the guests. The pair first met in 2011 at the 100th anniversary of Kingarth Street tea party.

Son Alastair said his mum delighted in relating school stories to the young people, including how she travelled to class by tram every day.

Flo’s 100-year-old connection with the school continued up until May this year when she made what was to be her last visit at the age of 109.

Hutchesons’ deputy rector Jim McDougall said: “Flo was a remarkable lady. The school community always looked forward to her visits to Kingarth Street and for many years our senior pupils have helped her celebrate her birthday at Antonine House.” As well as being a keen hockey player, Flo also had a great love of tennis and was also dedicated to the Girl Guides, serving as Captain of the 46th company at Cathcart South Church.

She was also the oldest member of the Church of Scotland. She joined the church when she was 18-years-old.

Flo also spent her working life at engineering firm Weir’s, at their historic HQ in Cathcart, initially in the publicity department.

Inevitably, Flo was 
regularly asked the secret of a long life.

Son Alastair said: “Mum wasn’t too keen on being asked this but she did say being active and playing sports – not just for the physical side but also for the friendships formed and kept as a result.

“Sadly many of her friends passed away before her but she loved being visited by their grandchildren. She had friends through the generations. She also had a strong faith and believed family is so important.”

A service of thanksgiving for Flo will be held at New Kilpatrick Parish Church, Manse Road, Bearsden, today (Thursday, August 16) at 2.30pm.