LEATHEM (ELDER), ESSIE RUBY nee BURGESS
Essie Burgess was born on the 25 June 1913 at Stratford, the daughter of Albert Edward and Ruby Louise Burgess nee Tennant. Essie worked as a waitress from the age of 13 years, as her parents had parted and her mother had subsequently died. She was working in Napier during the earthquake of 1931 and often told of the horrifying experience. Essie then came to Hawera to live with her sister Kaira (Dolly) Pine (later Butterworth), and met and married William Elder after a courtship of two weeks.
During these years, she contributed to the family and to the community in many ways. She served on the Hawera Primary and Hawera High School PTAs (Parent-Teacher Associations) and was involved with the queen carnival at the high school which raised money to build the school baths. She was also a member of the fund raising committee for the town pool, and worked hard at this project. She was also involved in fund raising for the community centre.
Essie, having been widowed, then returned to the workforce in her middle years. First she worked at the TAB (William had been a bookmaker, and Essie had a long interest in the racing scene), and later she was senior assistant at the Central Pharmacy, which was owned by her son.
She was a keen golfer, and served on the Hawera Golf Club committee. Essie also belonged to the Hawera Women's Club, where she enjoyed several activities. A keen bridge player, Essie became president of the "B" Hawera Bridge Club. This was originally the Bell Bridge Club, of which Essie was a foundation member, before the club united with the Hawera Bridge Club. Essie was also a member of the Hawera Ladies Bowling Club for several years.
In 1971, she married Thomas Desmond Leathem, widowed husband of Nancy Margaret Leathem. Des was a member of the RSA, and Essie became a member of the Women's Section and served on the committee, being their welfare officer for several years. In this role, she carried out excellent work among the older RSA women in the form of visiting and support. She also sang in the RSA choir.
With her husband's increasing sight and arthritis problems, Essie became a member of the Foundation for the Blind and Arthritis Society committees in Hawera. Her concern for the community led to her forming a Neighbourhood Support Group and she was a member of the local Save the Children committee. She was always out raising money to aid the various charities that she was associated with. Essie Ruby Leathem died on the 25 August 1992 at New Plymouth.
Kaye Cleaver (daughter)
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