Cou­ple cel­e­brate seven happy decades to­gether

Matamata Chronicle - - News - By ABBY BROWN

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

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