Humour key to 65-year marriage

Thankful...Merle and George Mills celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary at their Gore home last week. PHOTO: BEN ANDREWS

On the way home from their honeymoon 65 years ago, George and Merle Mills had to cross a swede paddock covered in 15cm of snow just to make it home.

On Wednesday, the Gore couple celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary.

Their blue sapphire wedding anniversary brought to mind several stories, including the snowy drama that began their honeymoon.

The couple met through their drama clubs, in the late 1950s.

Mr Mills (89), who was 22 at the time, was a member of the Waipahi drama club and Mrs Mills (86), who was 20, performed with the Clinton drama club.

Mrs Mills said she was drawn to Mr Mills’ dancing ability.

‘‘He was a very, very good dancer.’’

Both lived in Clinton at the time, where Mr Mills was a farmer and Mrs Mills (nee Ashby) was a teacher.

They courted for a year before they married on March 24, 1958.

The same day, they moved to the farm Mr Mills worked on, to a home with no power or running water.

The night of their honeymoon was one to remember, Mrs Mills said.

About 15cm of snow had fallen that day.

‘‘We knew we wouldn’t get the car in. We had to park it at the gate and walk,’’ Mr Mills said.

‘‘When we got to the house it was dark and dingy but a carpenter had put the fire on so it was warm, luckily.’’ Unfortunately, Mrs Mills lost her footwear during the journey.

‘‘I said I’ve lost my shoes in the snow and he said we’d get them in the morning,’’ Mr Mills said.

‘‘He did come back with a big grin on his face and found the shoes.’’

The couple later moved to a farm in Popotunoa where they raised their four children.

Life had its ups and downs. But the ups outweighed the downs, they said.

‘‘We travelled overseas quite often,’’ Mrs Mills said.

‘‘We had a daughter that lived in Iceland, so we went there four times and every time we went over to visit her we would do a tour.’’

Together the couple travelled across Europe, spending much time in Spain and the United Kingdom.

When asked their secret to 65 years of marriage, both had the same answer having a similar sense of humour.

‘‘We can always find something to laugh about,’’ Mrs Mills said.

The couple have 15 grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren.

‘‘It is one of the joys of still being alive.’’