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Ruth Frith
Ruth Frith
Ruth Frith at the age of 100.
Birth: 23 August 1909
Goulburn, New South Wales, Australia
Death: 28 February 2014
Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
Age: 104 years, 189 days
Country: AustraliaAUS

Ruth Pauline Frith (née Pursehouse; 23 August 1909 – 28 February 2014) was an Australian centenarian athlete. She was the mother of Australian Olympic jumper and pentathlete Helen Frith, who under her married name of Searle is also a multiple masters world record holder.


Early Life

Ruth Pursehouse was born in Goulburn, New South Wales, Australia on 23 August 1909. She attended Goulburn High School, a NSW selective school, and won the state title in the 100 yard dash at the Sydney Cricket Ground. She played field hockey as a girl. It was on a hockey trip to Dubbo that she met her future husband Ray Frith. They were married in 1936. She became active in sports administration as a young girl. An accomplished musician with the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, she served as the student representative to the Sports Union for Athletics. After playing with the Gouldburn Hockey Club, she served on the team committee. Her husband's work as a civil engineer took them to Darwin where she was Secretary of the Darwin Golf Club. After 5 years in Lithgow, where Ray surveyed the athletics fields for Dubbo, Orange, Bathurst and Lithgow the couple lived in Sydney, where they were the power couple of athletics officiating. She was a leader with the Women’s Amateur Athletics Association of NSW serving as Country Secretary, Records Officer, State Executive, and Secretary of the Northern Suburbs Women’s club and Mid-west club. She also coached long jumping, in which her daughter excelled.

Later Life

She took up being an active athlete in 1982 at the age of 73. She was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia in recognition of service to athletics in the 1994 Australia Day Honours, and in 2000 was a recipient of the Australian Sports Medal. She moved to Queensland to be with her daughter. Helen estimates she set as many as 25 world records in her career. Ruth was featured in the ABC documentary about and entitled the 100+ Club.

Ruth Frith died in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia on 28 February 2014 at the age of 104 years, 189 days.