It’s a milestone few people will achieve, but teenage sweethearts Bob and Molly Riseley will soon celebrate their 70th wedding anniversary.
Bob, 93, and Molly, 91, were married at the Knox Presbyterian Church in Invercargill on October 11, 1950. Molly wore an impressive white dress made by her friend’s mother.
They couple first met, ironically, at a wedding dance in Invercargill when they were both in their late teens.
They enjoyed a two-year engagement before tying the knot.
Both lived with their parents before marriage, but Bob secured a small two-bedroom wooden house for them to start their life together.
Bob worked as a cabinet maker in Invercargill and he ran the Otatara store in partnership with mate Bruce Harrington for seven years from the mid-1950s.
He then retrained and worked as a woodwork tutor at Southland Tech.
Molly worked in the bindery department at The Times.
Bob made the couple a bedroom suite before they got married, and they still have the bed, tallboy, stool and bedside table he expertly crafted from Southland beech.
Molly said she had never expected either one of them to live to such good ages and to be married for so long.
“I had a new pacemaker fitted in June and they tell me it’s good for 15 years, so we’ll have to wait and see what happens.”
Bob said his mother had lived until the age of 93 and he had known another couple who had been married for 70 years.
“Being married for so long has just crept up on us,” he said.
Bob battled and beat bowel cancer 20 years ago and the couple delayed their 50th wedding anniversary celebrations for a year.
The couple are both in general good health today, although Bob is a bit deaf and not a big fan of his hearing aids.
The couple have two children, Elaine, who was born seven years after they married, and another daughter Linda.
They have two grandsons and two great grandsons.
‘‘We’ve been very lucky in life, both with each other and with health, and we have great family support,’’ said Molly.
The couple moved to Ashburton from Southland in September 1967, just a few weeks after New Zealand moved to decimalisation.
Bob taught woodworking at the former Manual Centre in Ashburton, before landing a job teaching the same subject at Ashburton Intermediate, where he worked for 13
years before retirement.
He was a first day teacher at Ashburton Intermediate in 1974 and his daughter Linda was a first day pupil.
Tennis has been a great passion for Bob since the move here and he has many trophies, medals and certificates to to his name.
He played doubles with daughter Elaine for a number of years and still plays regularly.
Molly worked at Bruce Printing in Ashburton and sold Avon for 29 years.
She has been a member of the WahineClub, now Friendship Club, for 44
Molly and Bob say there are no real secrets to a long-lasting marriage.
They had both enjoyed doing their own things, but had been there for each other over the years.
‘‘We’ve had our ups and downs like all couples, but our marriage has been a partnership and we’ve always sorted out any issues,’’ said Molly.
The platinum wedding anniversary will be celebrated this Saturday with around 20 close family members joining Bob and Molly for lunch at Hotel Ashburton.
■ The number of marriages in 2019 dropped to its lowest level since 1960. About 20 per cent of marriages that occurred in the late 1990s ended in divorce within 10 years, dropping to around 15 per cent in the late 2000s. The number of marriages in 2019 dropped to its lowest level since 1960.
-By Mick Jensen