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INKYFLASH: Mrs Martha Gordon



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 INKYTEXT 349a                  PARIS                  Wednesday 19 April 2000
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                                MRS MARTHA GORDON
                                   1906 - 2000
  
 Mrs Martha Long Gordon died peacefully in the Nuffield Hospital at
6.30 pm last Friday. She was 93. Her son was at her bedside. Mrs
Gordon, who was enrolled for a part-time degree in Independent Studies
and resident in Lonsdale College, is believed to have been the
country's oldest undergraduate.
 
 Mrs Gordon's late husband was in public works in Assam between 1930
and 1947. On Indian Independence they moved to Kenya where they were
dairy farmers from 1947 until 1962. Their son was a District
Commissioner during the Mau Mau rebellion. Thereafter their time was
shared between Portugal and South-West Ireland until Mr Gordon's death
in 1973.
 
 Mrs Gordon then moved to Perth, Western Australia to join her
children, but also spent time in Provence. In 1981, at the age of 75
she came to Lancaster, enrolled for a degree in Archaeology and lived
in an undergraduate room. 

 During her years on campus, where she had decided to live and die, she
spanned the generations. She was very well-received by young
undergraduates who were impressed by her manifest alertness and
intelligence. But she also impressed the oldies, who enjoyed her company
and reminiscences.

 On graduating in 1985 she decided to stay on in the university and
enrolled for an MA in Archaeology. With her increasing frailty and the
closure of the department she did not complete it. However in 1993 she
was accepted as an undergraduate in Independent Studies whose major
courses were all to be in Creative Writing and were to deal with her
memoirs of the 20th century.

 She was increasingly frail in her later years but astonishingly alert
mentally. Winter winds and the weight of corridor doors sometimes
defeated her and she walked slowly. She relied on University Catering
for her meals and when they were closed she moved into Lancaster House
Hotel. She was transported in wheel chair and car and generally
provided for by a loyal band of friends, most notably Dr Zara Zaddy.

 A life that spanned the century and whose directions were determined
by the history of Raj and Empire ended in the Nuffield Hospital, where
her life support machine was switched off on Tuesday morning and she
slipped away, feisty and talkative to the end.

 The family funeral will be private but a memorial service will be held
next term.

 ENDS