Still laughing after 60 years
Married for 60 years this Thursday and still joking, Diane and Jim Haimes laugh that they met because they were ‘almost next door neighbours’ when Diane’s aunty bought the house next door to Jim’s family.
They started dating when Diane was 16 and Jim was 21, got engaged on Diane’s 18th birthday, and married in 1958 at St Mary of the Angels by Rev FR. N H Gascoigne.
Jim had trained as a builder and early years were spent in Wellington where they had lots of help from Diane’s parents looking after their three young children, Mark, Sara-Jane and Geoffrey. In 1969 the family moved to Taupo¯, and Diane continued her opera singing study with Barbara Nicholls. Previously she had trained under Sister Mary Winefride Blake at St Mary’s College in Wellington. They both had busy working careers. Jim set up JE Haimes Ltd Building and Diane took an active part performing with both the Taupo¯ Choral Society and Centre Stage Taupo¯.
A grand piano sits in the Haimes’ living room as a testament to Diane’s love of music, but she is now legally blind and can no longer read music. Over the years she has sung in Anything Goes and was in Hello Dolly, the first production put on by Centre Stage Taupo¯.
“I sang many solos with the choral society, and I performed in two operas with Waikato Opera — it was all sung in Italian. I sang at Government House.”
Diane says that even when she was in shows, Jim would be involved as a stage manager or the children would be in the show, and so everyone became involved. Jim spent many years racing motorbikes at the speedway and the motocross and was in charge during the early days of the Taupo¯ Motorcycle Club. A highlight was being the New Zealand Enduro 1984 team assistant manager for the International Six Days Enduro in Holland. Over the years Jim has given his time to many organisations, including the Kiwanis Club, the Taupo¯ Ski Club, the early Taupo¯ Motorcycle Club, and the Waira¯kei Club.
When he turned 65, Jim handed over the running of the business to son Mark and concentrated on an active retirement including road touring on his Goldwing 1500cc and skiing, and four years ago he took up mountain biking. This year he broke his shoulder skiing in the South Island but has made a full recovery and looks forward to more ski adventures.
“I haven’t been sitting around. I’ve got an e-bike. Seven or eight mates ride a couple of times a week. We do Craters [Craters of the Moon] or travel somewhere else. I enjoy it, but I have a lot of falls,” says Jim.
Their only sadness has been losing their son Geoffrey when he was 42. Diane says that he was a great piano teacher and played the harp, busking with his harp in Jerusalem.
Jim jokes that his advice for a long and happy marriage is to just keep saying ‘yes’.
“We had arguments but we didn’t carry on with them. They were over the next day.”
Jim says that Diane losing her sight has been a testing time, but says that she copes well and still does the cooking.
Diane says they have been lucky to have each other and that Jim has been a very good husband, a great dad and a great grandfather.
“Although I had to complain to the management — the cup of tea in bed was a bit cold.”
They laugh that they are getting old and tell of a recent gathering of friends where one couldn’t speak, another couldn’t hear, and Diane couldn’t see.
Diane is thankful for friends who are always prepared to give her a ride.
Jim and Diane celebrate their diamond wedding anniversary today.