Born 18th May 1919. Died 24th July 2015.
Elizabeth was born in 1919, to Dorothy and Philip Harding. Sadly, when Elizabeth was three years old her young father died of diabetes, just before insulin was discovered. An only child, she was brought up by her grandmother and aunt in London, and by her very resourceful mother, who became a fashion buyer in France and in London. Elizabeth had secretarial and art school training, and then at the outbreak of the war she became a WAAF pilot officer, working in ciphers. She met John Rooke though her surgeon uncle, for whom John was working as a house-surgeon at the time. Theirs was a very happy marriage, producing four children. John led a GP practice just outside Plymouth until his retirement to Walberswick in 1974.
The Rooke Walberswick connection goes back around one hundred and twenty years, both for holidays, and also as a place to live. Various North London Rooke family members had holidayed in Walberswick since around 1900, and John Rooke’s father, ‘Bobo’ (Cecil Bradley Rooke, a London solicitor) later owned two houses in The Terrace. During the war Elizabeth lived here with Teresa, and then James, for a couple of years, with Olive and ‘Bobo’ Rooke next door in Eastholme. Every year, in August, Elizabeth, John, and the four children, Teresa, James, Sarah and Timothy, spent their family holidays in Walberswick either in Eastholme, or at The Anchor. When retirement came, John Rooke bought Tamarisk, on the Green, from his sister Mary, who had lived there with her husband John Walford and their family. Mary had looked after Olive in Eastholme until her death in 1976, then Oliver, John’s older brother, and Barbara his wife took over Eastholme when Oliver Rooke, Church of England priest, retired from the Norfolk area.
Eighteen months ago, Elizabeth had become too frail to cope at home, so Teresa and her husband John brought her up to a Nursing Home near them in Yorkshire. Elizabeth, having lived in Walberswick for forty years, was sad to leave, but was incredibly brave and pragmatic about the necessity to do so. She had enjoyed Walberswick, gardening, painting, play-reading with the WATS, attending classes on various topics in the Village Hall, helping with various charities, and even, in her eighties, learning to play Bridge! She made many friends here. John Rooke died in 1991, having done GP locums in the area, and been involved in the village society; he had always loved Walberswick, and felt he was ‘coming home’ here at his retirement. His ashes are buried in the Rooke family grave in the churchyard, together with his parents, and Elizabeth’s ashes will be interred there in February.
A short Memorial service in St. Andrew’s Church, Walberswick, is planned for 2p.m. on Monday February 15th, and the family hopes that those who knew Elizabeth will come and join them there.