An untold love story: 61 years of happiness for Shepparton couple

By Ed McLeish

Mary Kenny never used to have a favourite type of flower.

But one day 63 years ago, Gerald, the man who would become her husband, surprised her while she was working at a chemist in Finley.

Mary, who was 19 at the time, said Gerald (then 23) appeared at the chemist front door with a rose out of her parents’ garden, which “gave it all away”.

“The moment roses became my favourite flower was the same moment I knew I had someone to love for ever,” she said.

Mary grew up in Finley and worked at the chemist, while Gerald lived and worked in Cobram, wheat and sheep farming at a farm called Kialla Park.

They met at a bush dance at Finley Hall, where Mary remembered dancing around and swapping partners.

“I noticed Gerald and thought he looked rather nice and prosperous looking,” she said.

“On both ends, it was love at first sight.”

“From there, he used to come over and visit me in what was known in those days as courting, where you would see one another every week.”

Mary vividly remembered Gerald proposing to her, around one year after they had met.

“It was just before dinner time in the lounge room at my parents’ house, and we were so excited,” she said.

Twelve months later they got married, on November 22, 1958, at St Joseph’s Church in Finley, and until one month ago, had lived happy lives at a farmhouse in Yarroweyah.

In that month, Gerald and Mary have moved to aged care facility Mercy Place Shepparton.

It has been 61 years of marriage, and Mary, now 82, said those years had been full of happiness.

“Gerald is a romantic; he’s never done a lot on Valentine’s Day, but he often picks a flower out of the garden for me,” Mary said.

They have had three children, Kathleen, Patrick and Carmel, as well as three grandchildren; Mary said their children were the “pride of their lives”.

When it came to tips for a long and successful marriage, a few words came to Mary’s mind.

“I would say tolerance, truthfulness, generosity, and never go to bed until you’ve had an argument sorted out,” she said.

“My Valentine’s Day message for Gerald is that the future will be good — and thank you for all the years of happiness we’ve had together.

“I would recommend long years of happiness to everybody.”

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