Couple mark 70 years of marriage
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.