Couple celebrate seven happy decades together
Meeting Les Williams the day before her 16th birthday resulted in Jean Williams’ biggest birthday present.
The couple celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary on Saturday with friends and family.
They met when Les came to work for Jean’s dad on his dairy farm on Taihoa Rd, in Matamata.
‘‘He came to work for my father on the farm so I had a good look at him too,’’ Jean said.
She was almost 16 and he was 20.
Les went off to train a Fijian battalion, who then went on to fight in the Solomon Islands in World War II, on May 10, 1942. One of the Fijians he trained died fighting and was posthumously awarded a Victorian Cross.
Jean ‘‘was still waiting for me when I got back’’, Les said.
They got married on November 11, 1944.
‘‘ I reminded Jean’s mum that I met Jean the day before her 16th birthday and she said ‘oh that was the biggest present we ever gave her’,’’ Les said.
Jean was uncomfortable with getting her wedding dress made.
‘‘ It was strange to be measured and fitted, I didn’t like it all.’’
It was uncommon to get any dress, even your wedding dress, made in post-war New Zealand where material was rationed.
‘‘ So you couldn’t have a train that was a mile long.’’
Jean said she and Les were like any other couple of that time, they had little money and she made her own clothes.
‘‘Nobody had any money but no-one thought anything of it.’’
Les worked for Jean’s dad for a little longer before the couple went sharemilking and bought their own farm in Walton.
They have four children; two boys and two girls.
Only one daughter is still living near to their apartment in Country Lodge’s retirement home.
‘‘She looks after us, tends us, brings us things, fixes things,’’ Jean said.
The two boys
in and their other is on Vancouver Brisbane daughter Island.
Jean and Les are very humble about making it to 70 years of marriage. ‘‘ We wanted to stay together,’’ Jean said.
‘‘I didn’t want anyone else,’’ Les added. Jean acknowledged that, like every couple, they had the odd cross word.
She also said having independence by both having jobs – she was a teacher and he was a farmer – helped.
HAPPY COUPLE: Jean and Les Williams celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary yesterday. Photo: ABBY BROWN