Blue cod the go to mark 104th birthday

Brenda Hicks turned 104 last Tuesday, and will be celebrating the milestone with her family in...
Brenda Hicks turned 104 last Tuesday, and will be celebrating the milestone with her family in Invercargill today. PHOTO: BEN TOMSETT
Longtime Invercargill resident Brenda Hicks will be eating her favourite food, beer-battered blue cod, when she celebrates her 104th birthday today.

She will be celebrating the milestone with 20 of her family members at Buster Crabbe — the second of her birthday celebrations, following one on her actual birthday earlier in the week on March 7.

Now the oldest resident at Rowena Jackson Retirement Village in Invercargill, she broke into dance and laughter while speaking to The Otago Daily Times.

Having lived in Invercargill all her life, she loved the city and its residents, she said.

"It’s a nice place and people are very good to everybody — that’s what I think," she said.

Born Brenda Marshall in 1919, she spent the first few years of her life living at the Invercargill racecourse — her father, Tom, being the caretaker and race starter.

Her brother Noel would often take her to North School by doubling her on his bicycle.

Brenda met her future husband George Hicks during a North Invercargill Anglican Church dance in 1937.

When World War 2 broke out, she served in the New Zealand Defence Force as a dental assistant at a military camp in Wellington, while George served as a cook and anti-aircraft gunner in Egypt, Syria and Italy.

One of her life’s happiest memories was dancing in the streets when the war reached its end in 1945.

She married George in 1946 in Invercargill and together they had two sons, Ken and Rodger.

In 2017, her husband died two days before his 98th birthday and one year after their 70th wedding anniversary.

She has been an artist throughout her life. The walls of her bedroom at Rowena Jackson are lined with many of her paintings and she is known to give much of her work away to friends. Many of her paintings are likely to be still hanging in Invercargill homes today.

Not limited to one discipline, Mrs Hicks has also been an avid sewer and owned the Invercargill branch of Bernina sewing machines from 1950-75.