THE country’s oldest person has passed away in hospital just a month short of her 112th birthday.
North East treasure Eunice Bowman died peacefully in her sleep on Friday.
Born in 1898, the great great grandmother has lived on Tyneside for most of her life and lived independently until two years ago, when she moved into Hillside Grange care home, in Gateshead.
As previously reported in The Journal, family and friends of Mrs Bowman came together every year for her birthday and celebrated her astonishing age.
The former fish and chip shop worker was Tyneside’s oldest lady for more than five years until she became the country’s oldest person in May, earning herself a place in the Guinness Book of Records.
But old age finally caught up with Mrs Bowman and she was admitted to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, in Gateshead, four weeks ago when her family were given the sad news that she was “slipping away”.
Mrs Bowman passed away peacefully in her sleep at 5am on Friday.
Relative Veronica Birrell, whose grandmother was Mrs Bowman’s cousin, said the family were devastated but comforting each other with reliving more than a century of memories of the incredible pensioner’s life.
Mrs Birrell, of Pelaw, Gateshead, said: “Although we all knew it would happen one day, it’s still incredibly sad.
“What I think Eunice would have been pleased with was that she made it to the country’s oldest person – she made it to the top of the pack.
“Everybody has so many wonderful memories of this remarkable lady and I think the family are taking comfort in talking about them amongst themselves.
“She didn’t actually have anything medically wrong with her, it was just old age that finally took its toll.
“Every one of her birthdays for the past 10 years we made a big fuss and made it special as we also thought it would be her last. But she kept on going and amazed us all – she was incredible.
“She will be a huge miss but I’m glad she got her accolade of being the country’s oldest person before she passed away. She may only have held the title for a few months but it’s definitely what she would have wanted.
“It means her name is in the Guinness Book of Records and she’s on Wikipedia on the internet.
“It’s just mind-blowing how many significant historical events Eunice lived through, you just wouldn’t have time to talk about them all.”
Workers at Mrs Bowman’s care home also paid tribute to a “lovely lady” who always had a smile on her face.
Christine Cox, a carer at the home, said: “She was a lovely woman, always happy and laughing.
“She liked to have a bit of a sing-song and she was really popular with members of staff and other residents. Everyone loved her.
“It’s very sad news and our thoughts are with her family.”
Mrs Bowman was born at Ince-in-Makerfield, Lancashire, the second of 12 children born to Thomas and Sarah Crook.
The family moved to Felling, Gateshead, in 1905 following to the decline in the textile industry so Thomas could work in the coal mines.
Hard-working Mrs Bowman, who lived most of her life in Windy Nook, Gateshead, married Robert Pearson and had four children, Norman, Tommy, Doris and Connie.
In 1928, Mr Pearson died from tuberculosis and Mrs Bowman later married Frank Bowman and had two more children, Sheila and Ann.
Mrs Bowman had six children, 17 grandchildren, 32 great grandchildren, five great-great grandchildren and at least 30 nephews and nieces.
She survived two world wars, saw six monarchs on the throne and 22 Prime Ministers in power during her incredible life, which she credited to working hard and never drinking and smoking.
Mrs Bowman worked in a fish and chip shop well into her 80s and said “a tipple of honey” helped keep her going.
The funeral will be held at 11.45am on Thursday at St Alban’s Church, in Windy Nook, followed by a burial at Heworth Burn Cemetery.