65 years together, by George

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By Toni Williams

Ursula and George Crack donned wedding attire in front of family to celebrate the nuptials they made 65 years ago.

The celebrant was their daughter in law, Sheryl.

The bride wore traditional white (borrowed this time around) and the groom his suit from yesteryear, when, on May 8, 1954, Ursula (nee Paul) married George Crack at Sacred Heart Church in Gore.

Their week-long honeymoon involved a South Island road trip travelling in a Fordson Truck, complete with canopy on the back to sleep in, and fitted with a double mattress.

The trip, travelling at 40 miles an hour (65km/hour), saw them travel up the East Coast inland to Culverden and down the West Coast.

The couple met three years earlier, at age 19 and 21, through sporting interests.

Their ability to work as a team, raising a family, running multiple businesses and being involved in the communities they lived in, was an important factor in their successful marriage.

“Take every day as it comes. Few people would say they’ve never had eruption in their marriage if honest, so if they can get over it…life is what you make it,” George says.

The newly-weds took up their first business together – a grocery store in Invercargill – on their return from honeymoon. They went into it quite green.

“I knew butter was two bob, that’s all I knew,” says George.

Five years later with their children, Stephen and Caroleen, and experience on their side, they moved to Gore to own another grocery store.

There they also started a darts club, which grew to 84 members.

Then followed ownership of a hotel in Lumsden where George’s father, George senior, took over the hotel across the road. For a time, both hotels had “proprietor George Crack” over the door.

After the arrival of children Philippa and Sharon, they sold for a shift to Stewart Island.

They took over the pub, where the tight-knit community helped them out when, four weeks before Christmas, staff left, power sources died and water supply malfunctioned.

“We made some lovely friends there, such lovely people,” Ursula says.

“It was a wonderful, wonderful experience,” agrees George.

From Stewart Island the Cracks’ headed north to Rangiora (chicken farming, carpentry,) before going offshore Chatham Islands to run a hotel they were head-hunted to mind.

Then there was a move to Oxford before settling in Ashburton.

At the Crack’s 50th wedding anniversary, celebrated with friends and family at Terrace Downs, their daughters Sharon and Philippa married their long term partners Albert Wichman and John Phillipson (respectively) in a surprise double wedding for guests.

They now share the same wedding anniversary as their parents, albeit 50 years later.

Last week the trio celebrated their respective wedding anniversaries together with families in a catered affair at the Crack home – each with their own cake. Among the congratulatory messages to Ursula and George was a card from Queen Elizabeth.

Ursula and George have nine grandchildren and two great grandchildren.