And the story continued for Southland couple Brenda and George Hicks (both 97) when they renewed their marriage vows on Sunday, the day after their 70th wedding anniversary.
The couple, faithful churchgoers, said ‘‘I do’’ again in front of more than 100 family and friends at Eastside Baptist Church inYarrow St, Invercargill.
Remarkably, the service was attended by Mr Hicks’ original wedding party, his best man and brother Cyril Hicks (95) and groomsman Noel Marshall
Mrs Hicks two bridesmaids, Hazel Hicks and June Marshall, have died, but June’s daughters Debbie Hay and Donna Smith stood beside Mrs Hicks at the special occasion, which was conducted by church pastor Chris Lee.
The weather on Sunday shone bright and crisp, in stark contrast to the torrential rain Mrs Hicks said greeted her on her post-war wedding day in Invercargill on August 6, 1946.
She recalled her father had to carry her from the family home into a waiting taxi to make sure her dress and shoes did not get dirty.
And what do they attribute to the success of their long marriage?
‘‘Love, patience and tolerance — but mostly love,’’ Mr Hicks said.
‘‘A trust in the Lord,’’ added Mrs Hicks, who was one of the foundation members of the Esk St Baptist Church (now Central Baptist Church), attending from when she was a baby with her mother Agnes Marshall, the Sunday school superintendent.
The Hicks met in 1940 at a hall dance in Invercargill.
It was love at first site for Mr Hicks, due to Brenda’s ‘‘beautiful auburn hair and neat figure’’.
Mrs Hicks said she was slower to warm to George’s charms, but after getting to know him well and spending time with his parents, who were ‘‘good people’’, she knew he was the young man for her. They were engaged later that year.
However, World War 2 put paid to immediate wedding plans, and it was six years before they could marry at the Esk St Baptist Church upon George’s return from service overseas.
The couple, both still active and independent, have lived in a townhouse at Rowena Jackson Retirement Village, for the past two years.
Both were long-standing and valuable members of the Eastside Baptist church, Mr Lee said.
‘‘They are a real inspiration. They embrace people in this church from all walks of life. They have a real heart for reaching the people.’’