Cou­ple mark 70 years of mar­riage

Bush Telegraph - - Focus On Farming - By DAVE MUR­DOCH

The Stephen­son fam­ily met at the Stephen­son home­stead on July 7 to cel­e­brate the plat­inum an­niver­sary —70 years of mar­riage — of Don and Eu­nice Stephen­son.

The ac­tual date of the wed­ding at Knox Church was July 2, 1948 when Don mar­ried Eu­nice, the cou­ple hav­ing known each other all their lives. Eu­nice said an aunt reck­oned they first met when she was in the pram and Don in a pushchair.

Liv­ing in the Te Re­hunga dis­trict, the cou­ple went to Te Re­hunga School trav­el­ling in the first ever school bus in New Zealand in 1936, a con­verted and dusty Ford truck.

They went on to Dan­nevirke High School and upon leav­ing in 1941 Don worked on the Stephen­son farm while Eu­nice worked in the Ta­maki Dairy Fac­tory in the of­fice.

Both served in the Home Guard and Don got the call-up to serve over­seas just a week be­fore World War II ended.

Don milked and de­liv­ered to the Ta­maki Fac­tory even while still at school, hav­ing reg­u­lar contact with Eu­nice and this led to their mar­riage.

Eu­nice said not be­ing a farmer’s daugh­ter it was a real change to live and work on a dairy farm but she thor­oughly en­joyed the experience, help­ing out with farm tasks while be­ing mother to two daugh­ters and three sons. She de­vel­oped the rep­u­ta­tion for adopt­ing pets and her hos­pi­tal­ity pro­vid­ing morn­ing tea for those who de­liv­ered the milk earned her kitchen the nick­name The Te Re­hunga Cof­fee Shop.

Mean­while, Don worked hard to de­velop the Stephen­son farm in­her­ited from his par­ents Robert (Frank) and Ina.

One of Don’s special mem­o­ries was the host­ing of Ja­panese dairy trainees, 13 on the Stephen­son farm and a fur­ther 20 around the dis­trict for a Ja­panese Dairy Co-op in the 1980s and 1990s and vis­it­ing Ja­pan where his hosts treated he and Eu­nice “right roy­ally”.

His in­ter­est in the stock mar­ket saw Don in­vest in Bri­er­ley shares in the early 80s, pro­vid­ing cash to ex­pand the farm op­er­a­tions into sev­eral other prop­er­ties and to buy an apart­ment on Aus­tralia’s Gold Coast over­look­ing the beach.

Eu­nice and Don love to travel, par­tic­u­larly tak­ing boat cruises, the QEII be­ing their favourite. They have trav­elled Asia, Europe, the Pa­cific, North and South Amer­ica one of the high­lights be­ing the cruise up the Ama­zon River 1000 kilo­me­tres to Manaus.

Don was also very ac­tive in com­mu­nity lead­er­ship roles, be­ing one of the orig­i­nal di­rec­tors of the Ruahine Dairy Com­pany with which he served 21 years, chair­ing the re­struc­tur­ing when it amal­ga­mated with the Manawatu Dairy Com­pany.

He was also chair­man of HB Farm Prod­ucts for nine years, be­ing proac­tive in the 1980s buy­ing a pel­let­ing plant to sup­ply sheep on their voy­age to Saudi Ara­bia dur­ing the era of live sheep ex­ports.

Don helped res­ur­rect the Ruahine Rugby Club cap­tain­ing the se­niors in 1944, go­ing on to be pres­i­dent and a life mem­ber.

His keen in­ter­est in horse rac­ing led to his serv­ing as a stew­ard in the Woodville Rac­ing Club for 14 years.

The Te Re­hunga Hall has al­ways been a strong in­ter­est serv­ing on the com­mit­tee for three decades.

He com­mis­sioned the amaz­ing cen­ten­nial book Te Re­hunga 1905-2005 writ­ten by Cath Cameron.

Don and Eu­nice Stephen­son with son Barry and grand­son An­drew at the Stephen­son home­stead on Mon­day, June 25.

Don and Eu­nice with grand­daugh­ters Alice and Sara and great-grand­son Henry.

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