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Edith Redstone obituary: ‘Open-minded’ and ‘generous’ Hampstead resident, author and art enthusiast dies aged 101

PUBLISHED: 16:13 29 April 2020 | UPDATED: 16:27 30 April 2020

When asked for her secret to longevity, Edith would reply

When asked for her secret to longevity, Edith would reply "keep moving". Picture: Ella Saltmarshe

Archant

Longstanding Hampstead resident and ‘Growing Old Disgracefully’ co-author Edith Redstone has passed away, one month shy of her 102nd birthday.

Edith worked at the American Office of War Information. Picture: Ella SaltmarsheEdith worked at the American Office of War Information. Picture: Ella Saltmarshe

Starting in 1918 at the end of the First World War, Edith’s remarkable life journey spanned a century of immense change, during which she deftly adapted.

Born in the Bronx to immigrant parents from Russia and Austria, her family’s textile business was destroyed by the Great Depression.

Unable to afford to go to college by day, Edith completed an engineering degree at night, while also working in the women’s clothes department of Sacs 34th Street.

At the age of 22 she met an Englishman, Charles Redstone. They married in 1942 and in 1944 the couple moved to the UK.

Edith was born in the Bronx, New York City, to parents from Russia and Austria. Picture: Ella SaltmarsheEdith was born in the Bronx, New York City, to parents from Russia and Austria. Picture: Ella Saltmarshe

Edith went to work at the American Office of War Information.

Part of her job involved flying over Germany in an American bomber dropping leaflets with humanitarian information.

After the war she focused on being a mother to her new son and daughter, moving first to Highgate and then Hampstead where she would live for the rest of her life.

Edith combined motherhood with varied work including polling for Gallup, being a founding member of a disability charity and following her keen love of art by joining the Gillian Jason Gallery in Camden.

Edith co-authored Growing Old Disgracefully which encouraged older women to reclaim their lives as they aged. Picture: Ella SaltmarsheEdith co-authored Growing Old Disgracefully which encouraged older women to reclaim their lives as they aged. Picture: Ella Saltmarshe

When she hit 70, Edith went on a course at the Hen House in Yorkshire where she met a group of women who went on to change each others’ lives.

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Edith and her co-authors wrote Growing Old Disgracefully (GOD).

The book proposed that older women should reclaim their lives as they aged - and a global tour followed.

Edith and her co-authors went on to launch a movement, forming a nationwide network of GOD groups that still exist today.

For many years Edith was an active member of the local Belsize group.

She continued to lead a busy and productive life throughout her 80s and 90s.

Voraciously curious and open-minded, she embraced change.

After a lifetime of being told she couldn’t sing, she took it up at 85 and was a keen member of the Sing for Joy choir for 15 years based in Kentish Town.

A staunch anti-monarchist, Edith refused a letter from the Queen when she hit 100, but was pleased to get one from former US Secretary of Defence, Leon Panetta, acknowledging her contribution to the Allied war effort.

A staunch Ham&High reader, Edith was known for her vigour, generosity, openness and love of whiskey.

When asked for the secret to longevity, she would reply “keep moving”, and when people told her to take care, she’d reply “I have other plans”.

Having passed away on April 17, Edith leaves behind two children, Amanda and Peter, six grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.


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