Couple mark 70 years
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.
Taupo¯ couple Robbie and Stan Shearer marked 70 years of marriage on Tuesday.
The Shearers on their wedding day in 1948.