SALOMA May Ruthberg (née Hamilton), who is affectionately known as Omah, turned 103 last month.

Now living at Laurina Lodge, Heyfield, Omah was born on July 19, 1919 in Briagolong, and is the wife of the late Charles (Chas) Ruthberg.

They were married on February 14, 1942 and had four children: Maureen Henebery of Fulham, Kay Christian (deceased) formally of Lockington, Leonie Treguer who lives in Bidache, France, and Charles Jr of Boisdale.

Omah with first great-granddaughter Rhiannon, pictured 36 years ago.

The name Saloma is a derivative of Shalom, meaning Peace. It was the midwife looking after Omah’s mother, who suggested she call her baby Saloma because July 19, 1919 was declared Peace Day, the official day to celebrate the ending of World War 1 throughout the British Empire.

In Australia, the government decided to present 600,000 medals to NSW school children on July 19, 1919 to commemorate the end of World War 1.

Omah spent her birthday afternoon reminiscing with family about travel stories and experiences and times of old. She told the story of when her brother Vern and her set off with their father to the property of Decourcey O’Donovan, who lived up on the hill above Briagolong, to shear some sheep for a family.

Omah with daughters Maureen and Kay in the 1940s.

The O’Donavans would prepare dinner for them, so he said the kids could shell the peas for dinner, and they would eat the fresh sweet peas.

Omah recalls Mr O’Donavan as a kind man. He caught them eating the peas, so he said to the kids, “you better not be eating too many of those peas or there will be little ye’nough for dinner”.

Omah had a brief stint in Melbourne working at MacRobertsons Chocolate Factory during the War circa 1940, putting chocolate into boxes.

She lived with her cousin in a very handy spot in Middle Park, but didn’t stay there for long after. Chas, whom she knew from home and later married, started visiting her more frequently, so she decided to return to Boisdale to marry and start a family.

Omah lived on their Ridley’s Lane property in Boisdale for most of her life.

Chas and Omah were heavily involved in horse racing and are life members of the Sale Turf Club. Chas died in 1996, age 81.

Omah moved to a unit in Boisdale St, Maffra, for a few years and then to Laurina Lodge in 2016.

Omah still enjoys spending her time watching the horse racing, and likes doing puzzle books to keep her mind active. She speaks to loved ones on the phone, which was so important during the COVID lockdowns.

Omah has been heavily involved in horse racing during her life. Pictured is a badge from her attending the Asian Racing Conference in 1973.

Omah described the years she travelled around the world as some of the most significant of her life.

Chas and Omah attended the Asian Racing Conference in Turkey in 1973. Another time she helped her daughter Leonie and her husband Jean-Paul Treguer move from France to Ethiopia for his next contract with Schlumberger. Omah actually said she could live and settle there! She also loved the cleanliness of Singapore. In 2000, at 80-years-old, she travelled to Darwin and explored Kakadu National Park.

She last travelled overseas to France in 2007 when she was 88.

Omah’s granddaughter Cecilia Palmer (left), Omah (centre), and her children Charles Ruthberg Jr and Maureen Henebery celebrate Omah’s 103rd birthday. Photos: Contributed.

At the family party, Omah said thank you to everyone.

“I’m a very lucky woman to be here and to appreciate what my family has done for me,” she said.

Omah credits three things for her long life.

“Laughter, love and family”.

Omah’s 100th birthday invitation