99 years of a beautiful life

Elma Josephine Pearsall (nee Russell) 11/04/1921 - 18/10/2020

It is with great sadness that the family of Elma Josephine Pearsall announces her passing at the age of 99 years.

Elma passed away on October 18, 2020 in Boorowa.

She was buried on October 27, 2020.

Her funeral was held in Harden at St Anthony's Catholic Church and she was interned at the Harden Lawn Cemetery.

Elma was born at Rye Park on April 11, 1921 to Leslie and Amelia Russell (nee Brown) of Flakeney Creek, Pudman.

She was the eldest of seven children. Elma had four brothers - Clarrie, Basil, Darcy and Ray and two sisters, Joan and Robyn.

Elma grew up on the family property at Pudman attending the Pudman School, of which she had fond memories.

She walked to school, rain, hail or shine. Elma had beautiful handwriting and was an excellent scholar.

She loved swimming in the Pudman Creek, playing tennis and going to dances with her brothers and sisters.

The Russell family was one of the first Aboriginal families to be granted land, their home at Flakeney Creek, Pudman becoming a place to call home for many generations that followed - the heart of the family's history.

Elma moved to Sydney for work after finishing her education, but she always missed being at home. She returned to Pudman and took on some work cleaning and caring for the children of the local families.

From Elma's first marriage she had three daughters, Lynne, Jan and Donna.

After some time living in Gunning, they moved to Goulburn, where she worked in aged care for a number of years at both Kenmore and Waminda hospitals.

On a trip home to Pudman, she attended the Rye Park Centennial, where she ran into Ervin Pearsall, her childhood sweetheart and after many phone calls, letters and visits they decided to marry.

They married at Ervin's Harden property "Clearview". Elma gained two more children, stepdaughter Ruth and stepson Ken.

During their marriage they enjoyed travelling Australia. They shared many adventures over the years together.

Unfortunately, due to Ervin's ill health, they sold "Clearview" and moved to Tuross Heads.

Her nine grandchildren fondly remembering wonderful family time spent together at both "Clearview" and the Tuross home.

Her love of baking, cooking and spending time with her family was something she relished over her years.

Elma was a great homemaker and an excellent cook.

She was well known for her banana cakes and her mother's Christmas pudding that she has passed on through the family and is still made every year.

You could always tell the time by when Elma had her cups of tea, she loved a cuppa so much.

Elma moved to Boorowa later in life where she lived for the last 20 years or so and made many friendships there.

Elma's great love of family and friends stirred her interest in documenting her family history.

She discovered and shared a deep family history, going back as far as five generations.

This, and her local knowledge of the Pudman and Flakeney Creek area, as well as her time spent at the Pudman School, has been well documented in a numerous books.

In 2013, at the age 92 years, she was interviewed for a Kris Kerehona ABC production "The Centenarians: embracing the coming of age".

The film celebrated the lives of five people, including Mrs Pearsall, who at the time was the oldest living Ngunnawal elder.

This program was commissioned by the ACT Division of the Australian Association of Gerontology as part of its celebration of Canberra's centenary.

Elma enjoyed good health right up until her passing and she would credit this to playing tennis when she was younger and having never smoked or drank.

She loved telling her grandchildren about her childhood and growing up at Pudman.

Elma had three children, nine grandchildren, 25 great-grandchildren and seven great-great-grandchildren.

Elma always longed to go home to Pudman, it was her happy place.

It was a home she never forgot.

The family was looking forward to celebrating what would have been Elma's 100th birthday in April 2021.

So many memories and stories of a life well lived that her friends and family will never forget.

The family will ensure to pass on her knowledge and continue to celebrate their family heritage for generations to come.

Elma lived her life simply, but in the most remarkable way - this was her most powerful attribute, she was her families' constant.

She loved nothing more than having all her family around and her love and care extending out beyond her own.

She will always be remembered for her generosity, warmth and kindness.

Forever in our hearts and never forgotten.


  • Beyond the Borders - An Anecdotal History of the Hume and Related Pioneering Families by Jennifer Hume Macdougall and Prudence Grieve
  • The Pajong and Wallabalooa - A History of the Aboriginal Farming Families at Blakney and Pudman Creeks by Ann Jackson-Nakano
  • Wiradjuri Places - The Murrumbidgee River Basin with a section on the Ngunawal Country by Peter Rimas Kabaila
  • The Blackboard in the Bush - Pudman Creek School & Public Education in NSW by Philip Hobbs