50-year pair drawn to­gether

Central Leader - - News - By Janie Smith

It was some­where on the road be­tween Kelly Tarl­tons and the Par­nell Baths that Doug and Ruth Ast­ley re­alised they were meant for each other.

The Waikowhai cou­ple, who cel­e­brated their 50th wed­ding an­niver­sary on April 18, say that drive back from Doug’s fam­ily home af­ter a meal was the mu­tual turn­ing point in the re­la­tion­ship when they de­cided they wanted to marry each other.

“I thought: ‘ I’m go­ing to marry this guy’,” says Ruth.

It wasn’t un­til later in their mar­riage that they re­alised both had the rev­e­la­tion at the same time.

They fol­lowed their in­stincts and half a cen­tury on are still hap­pily mar­ried.

The cou­ple met at a busi­ness meet­ing and their eyes met across the crowded room.

“He had a lot to say for him­self and I won­dered what made him tick,” says Ruth.

They be­gan dat­ing and had a rel­a­tively short courtship, mar­ry­ing when Doug was 27 and Ruth was 25.

Both were al­ready in­volved in com­mu­nity work with their churches and a range of other or­gan­i­sa­tions and ac­tiv­i­ties.

“We had fairly full lives, we had to fit each other into that. We gave up some of it to spend more time with each other,” says Doug.

He worked in the tan­nery busi­ness un­til he re­tired in 1989, while Ruth was a home­maker and looked af­ter their three chil­dren.

Af­ter re­tir­ing, Doug be­came in­volved with lo­cal body pol­i­tics and was an Auck­land city coun­cil­lor un­til 2001.

When he turned 70, he de­cided to step down from his coun­cil role but he is also a Jus­tice of the Peace which keeps him busy, and is also in­volved in the Auck­land Tramp­ing Club.

Both are also in­volved with com­mu­nity work and their lo­cal church.

They be­lieve their com­mit­ment to their mar­riage vows, their faith in God and Chris­tian val­ues and will­ing­ness to work through dif­fi­cult times to­gether has kept their mar­riage strong.

“It wasn’t just a phys­i­cal at­trac­tion. We felt God par­tic­u­larly wanted us to be to­gether,” says Doug.

The cou­ple have 11 grand- chil­dren and cel­e­brated their mile­stone in two cel­e­bra­tions with friends and fam­ily.

Grand­daugh­ter Jes­sica Rugg made them a scrap­book of their mem­o­ries and pho­to­graphs which guests signed.

Happy day: Doug and Ruth Ast­ley on their wed­ding day in 1959.

Photo: JA­SON OX­EN­HAM

Mar­riage mile­stone: Doug and Ruth Ast­ley cel­e­brated 50 years to­gether.

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