BEACON OF THE DAY: Westmoreland native still active at 107

A family is still basking in a milestone attained by its matriarch, Desdie Elizabeth Whyte Farquharson, affectionately called Miss Des.

She turned 107 years old on February 3.

“That’s amazing,” said Marsha Smith, a granddaughter of the centenarian.

She added: “I don’t know people who can say that they know someone who has lived this long; it gives us really amazing insights into life before the way we currently know it.”

Smith noted that her grandmother has a sharp memory and is relatively active. “She can do pretty much everything for herself. She still goes outside for a walk, tends to her flowers, [and] sews. She is a little hard of hearing in one of her ears, but she is in pretty good health actually.”

The centenarian, now living with her family in the United States, was born on 3 February 1913 at Grange Hill in Westmoreland, Jamaica, to parents Moses Whyte and Margaret Spence.

She has two siblings who are deceased.

Miss Des has eight biological children – Basil, Norma, Keith, Kenneth, Grace, Desmond (who died in 2015), Marian, and Michael.

Her children’s father is Reverend Wesley Farquharson, whom Miss Des wedded on August 19, 1933 when she was 20 years old.

She worked alongside her spouse for years while he ministered at the Welcome, Strawberry, Friendship, and Fort William Church of God Holiness – all in Westmoreland.

Reverend Farquharson, however, died on January 3, 1965.

His widow, Miss Des, eventually was appointed assistant pastor at Welcome Church of God Holiness in Welcome district, Westmoreland.

She served that church until she migrated to the United States to live with her son Basil, in the Bronx, New York.

Miss Des joined the New Covenant Church of Christ in the Jamaica area of Queens, where she served in different capacities.

She, in 1989, moved to Mount Vernon in New York and lived there for several years.

She became a member of the Bronx Bethany Church of the Nazarene on 30 January 2000.

Miss Des later moved to Palm Bay in Florida to live with two of her children.

One of her daughters, Marian, who also spoke on behalf of her siblings, hailed the matriarch.

“We, her children, are who we are today because of her godly nurturing,” Marian said, adding: “My mother’s quiet disposition, her winsome smile, forgiving spirit, positive outlook on life, and her strong faith in God have given her a character that is unmatched.”

The centenarian, whose hobbies include gardening and dressmaking, got her first job at age 18 as a domestic helper with a Dr. Isaacs. She earned a living mainly as a seamstress.

Miss Des last visited Jamaica about six years ago.

“My grandmother remembers a lot about her childhood… She talks about the church that she is from; she talks about the neighbourhood; she talks about the sunrise when she used to wake up in the morning; she talks very much about what she considers home,” Marsha said.

She added that her grandmother attributes her longevity to her firm belief in her maker.

Miss Des has 33 grandchildren, 18 great-grandchildren, and six great-great-grandchildren – all expected to upkeep her rich legacy of love and godliness.


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