Cou­ple mark 70 years

Taupo & Turangi Weekender - - Front Page - Lau­rilee McMichael

Stan Shearer jokes that he never did get paid for a house he de­signed for his fu­ture wife.

Stan had been taken on to de­sign a Welling­ton home for Beatrice Robin­son, known to all as Rob­bie. Rob­bie had moved to Welling­ton from the United King­dom af­ter World War II. Orig­i­nally from Le­ices­ter, she had mar­ried dur­ing the war at age 18 but her hus­band, New Zealand bomber pi­lot Ed­ward Robin­son was killed five months af­ter­ward.

She sailed to New Zealand in 1946 to meet Ed­ward’s mother and fa­ther and loved it so much that she asked her par­ents to come out and join her, say­ing she would build a house. At the time Stan, who had served in the air force dur­ing the war, was at Auck­land Uni­ver­sity study­ing ar­chi­tec­ture.

“I went to Up­ton & Shearer [builders] and that was Stan’s fa­ther,” Rob­bie re­mem­bers. “We went up to the sec­tion and [Stan’s fa­ther] had a look and said ‘the plan you’ve got drawn won’t fit on it so we had bet­ter do some­thing about it. My son is com­ing down from uni­ver­sity for the big builders’ ball, would you like to go with him?’ and I said ‘that will be very nice’. “And we got on.”

They must have got on well. Be­cause last Tues­day Rob­bie and Stan cel­e­brated 70 years of mar­riage.

The cou­ple, who are aged 92 and 93 re­spec­tively, mar­ried on Novem­ber 6, 1948 at St Peter’s Church in Welling­ton.

The cou­ple lived in Auck­land, Blen­heim and then Welling­ton where they had a son and two daugh­ters and Stan had a fur­ni­ture-mak­ing fac­tory in Blen­heim and de­signed and built houses in Welling­ton. Be­ing an ar­chi­tect who also had build­ing skills, he was in de­mand. When the chil­dren were older, Rob­bie worked at the TAB as a pro­gram­mer, in­putting all the race in­for­ma­tion into the huge com­put­ers of the time.

But when their chil­dren had grown up, the cou­ple de­cided it was time for a rad­i­cal change.

“With the chil­dren all overseas we thought we would do some­thing dif­fer­ent, so we de­cided to build a mo­tel.”

The cou­ple set­tled on Taupo¯ and Stan de­signed and built the Manor Grove Mo­tel and Truf­fles Res­tau­rant at the bot­tom of Pataka Rd. He also made all the fur­ni­ture. At that time there were only a cou­ple of mo­tels on the lake­front and the Shear­ers soon es­tab­lished a niche in the mar­ket, with their em­pha­sis on good ser­vice a bit of a rar­ity in the 1970s. It was a busy 10 years, but en­joy­able. Stan re­newed his pi­lot’s li­cence and would hire a plane to take guests fly­ing over the moun­tains, and on Satur­days Rob­bie would put on a bar­be­cue on the front lawn for the guests to mix and min­gle.

“It was lovely be­cause in those days there were only about four big places and we wanted some­thing dif­fer­ent,” Rob­bie re­calls. “We liked wine glasses and din­ner mats and we tried to do some­thing up­mar­ket and we had lots of overseas guests and a lot of Amer­i­can guests.”

The Shear­ers were in­volved in the Taupo¯ Cham­ber of Com­merce, Rob­bie helped start the Taupo¯ Women’s Club and Stan stood for the lo­cal coun­cil. He also em­ployed school stu­dents, off-duty po­lice and traf­fic of­fi­cers in his build­ing com­pany — he chuck­les that they all knew who he was so he could never get into any trou­ble in town.

The cou­ple did ev­ery­thing to­gether but it was hard work and af­ter a decade they were ready to re­tire. They went trav­el­ling, built a new home in Pataka Rd and en­joyed golf and sail­ing.

Stan says although it hasn’t all been roses — “we can fight!” — they have had a happy and full life to­gether and de­rive a lot of plea­sure from spend­ing time with their chil­dren, six grand­chil­dren and five great-grand­chil­dren.

There have been tough times. Rob­bie has sur­vived can­cer and heart at­tacks (I don’t know why but I’m still here,” she says. “To look af­ter me,” Stan replies). She has also suf­fered from mac­u­lar de­gen­er­a­tion and was reg­is­tered legally blind but her “ab­so­lutely marvel­lous” eye sur­geon has been able to re­verse the ef­fects so well that Rob­bie can even drive again. Rob­bie has done a lot of work for the Blind Foun­da­tion and it was with great plea­sure that she was able to ask to be re­moved from the blind reg­is­ter.

She has re­tained an in­ter­est in com­put­ers, re­cently plan­ning to sign up for a course at Lit­er­acy Taupo¯ and teach other res­i­dents at Lis­ton Heights, while Stan plays bowls and snooker.

On their an­niver­sary the Shear­ers planned to travel with their Ohope-based daugh­ter Linda to see the Rus­sian Bal­let in Hamil­ton. At Christ­mas time all their chil­dren (their son Gary lives in Aus­tralia and their daugh­ter Dianne in Ire­land) will join them and Rob­bie is plan­ning a big party for her 93rd birth­day on Jan­uary 20.

Photo / Lau­rilee McMichael

Taupo¯ cou­ple Rob­bie and Stan Shearer marked 70 years of mar­riage on Tues­day.

Photo / Sup­plied

The Shear­ers on their wed­ding day in 1948.

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