Southland centenarian celebrates a life well lived

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Southland-born Alex McBurney travelled from Frankton to Invercargill for his 100th birthday celebration last Saturday.

SOUTHLAND-born Alex McBurney says the key to making it to 100 years old is keeping busy.

The lifelong athlete and dedicated businessman celebrated a century of life by throwing a party with family, friends and his 13 great-grandchildren at Invercargill’s Richmond Grove Church Hall on Saturday.

Alex McBurney’s great-grandchildren sported custom-made T-Shirts for his 100th birthday party in Invercargill last Saturday.

When asked what got him to the 100-year milestone, he said “I just kept pretty busy really”.

From serving in the New Zealand Army to running a family-owned menswear store in Invercargill, Mr McBurney had lived a pretty special life.

Throughout the years he played cricket, badminton, squash and, at 65 years old, took up windsurfing.

Up until a year ago, he played golf three times a week with what he described as “the oldies”.

His son Peter McBurney said he thought his father was “pretty unique” and had a planned life all the way through.

“He’s always kept active and positive, eats good food and loves the sun.

“He only stopped cooking all his own meals recently. He’s very switched on.”

When Alex McBurney was 21 years old and serving in the military, he met Elma.

With just one day left of his leave from the army, he decided to propose.

“I didn’t see her for three-and-a-half years, I went to serve in Egypt and Italy.”

It was there he took part in many of the 2nd New Zealand Division’s more well-known battles of the war, including El Alamein in Egypt, and Cassino in Italy.

Upon his return to Invercargill, the pair got married.

From there, he joined his father’s menswear business, McKenzie Menswear, and stayed in it until he and his wife, Elma, retired to Kelvin Heights 40 years ago.

When his wife died 26 years ago, Mr McBurney moved into a unit in Frankton where he had remained ever since.

It was there, last week, he met with a group of old golfing friends at the Frankton Golf Centre to start the 100th birthday celebrations.

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