Conleys reach the magic 50
Sport, gardening, travel and even a spell in Ohakune
If Linda and John Conley’s marriage could survive four years in Ohakune, it could survive anything.
The Gloaming Hill couple celebrated five decades of marriage on August 10, holding a family party at Titahi Bay Bowling Club.
The venue was appropriate because the Conleys are both mad about lawn bowls, between them having won New Zealand and North Island titles.
It was sport that brought the pair together 50 years ago.
Mrs Conley, then 18, was in Auckland to compete in a rollerskating competition, and met 20- year- old Mr Conley on the return train journey to Wellington.
‘‘I happened to turn my head and he waved,’’ she said.
Mr Conley was returning home to Palmerston North from a Pacific Island holiday. The pair chatted about sport and travel, and were soon an item.
The couple had likely crossed paths before – Mr Conley worked in the ticket office at Wellington Railway Station.
‘‘He had probably sold me a ticket a few times,’’ Mrs Conley said.
After marrying in 1963, the cou- ple spent years shifting for Mr Conley’s work on the railways. Ashhurst and Waipawa were OK, but not Ohakune, Mrs Conley said.
If lighting a coal range every morning wasn’t bad enough, the weather and isolation were intolerable, she said.
By the time the couple moved back to Kenepuru, then Ascot Park and finally Titahi Bay, they had four sons and a daughter.
Life was busy – Mr Conley coached children’s rugby and softball, maintained an award-winning garden, and since the 1990s has been a court crier.
He has looked after juries and witnesses on the high-profile trials of Scott Watson and Ewen MacDonald.
Working through the tough moments, like living in Ohakune or being a ‘‘bowls widow’’, was the secret to a long marriage, Mrs Conley said.
‘‘You have your arguments and then you get over it. Nobody has 50 years without rough times.’ ‘‘I think we get along very well together,’’ Mr Conley said. ‘‘ We love each other in the end.’’
Nifty fifty: Linda and John Conley celebrated a long marriage on August 10.