Fay and Bob Shirtliff from Wauchope celebrate 65 years of marriage

SO HAPPY TOGETHER: Fay (84) and Bob Shirtliff (87) celebrate 65 years of marriage on Wednesday February 5. Photo: Letitia Fitzpatrick.
SO HAPPY TOGETHER: Fay (84) and Bob Shirtliff (87) celebrate 65 years of marriage on Wednesday February 5. Photo: Letitia Fitzpatrick.

Fay and Bob Shirtliff believe in the power of love, after 65 years of marriage, despite the ups and downs of life.

The Wauchope couple celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary with a movie and a meal on Wednesday February 5, and they look back fondly on their decades together.

Fay Waters was 17 and living in Wentworthville when a neighbour brought 19-year-old Bob Shirtliff from Fairfield over for a visit to her parents' home.

"That's when it happened," she smiled.

"We went out together for two years, and then we got married. My aunt gave us ten pounds as a wedding present, and I bought a set of tubs, because we had no bathroom. She was horrified."

Bob and Fay in 1955.

Bob and Fay in 1955.

Fay was working in the accounts department of AGE and Bob was in his fifth year of an apprenticeship as a plumber. They moved to Fairfield and built a garage and lived in it for three years and had their son, Stephen and their daughter Deborah.

"It was tough, but we managed. You did in those days," recalled Fay.

"And we paid no rent and that was the greatest thing," smiled Bob.

They built the garage themselves, and then built a home on the same block, and Fay says she moved things around for her husband during the day, and they continued to build the house at night and at weekends. They moved into the house in 1958 and were delighted to have no mortgage, although Bob worked seven days a week.

They welcomed their third child, Carolyn in 1963 and Bob started his own business. He had to wait until he was 21 because you weren't considered an adult until then. In 1979, the couple bought 25 acres at Beechwood.

"It was an absolute delight in those days, and we built our own house," said Fay.

Carolyn went to Wauchope High School and they stayed at Beechwood until 2002, and then bought a villa in Wauchope.

"I was born and reared in the Depression time, and we were poor, and I said: 'I'm going to get a trade, and I'm going to work hard. I did, and I retired when I was 58," said Bob.

Over the years, the couple have enjoyed working in the paddock, playing bowls at Wauchope Country Club and they love their garden. They now have seven grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. Their son, Stephen and daughter Deborah both work on the other side of Australia, in Karratha.

"Our daughter, Carolyn, lives in Beechwood, thank goodness," said Fay.

Bob says the secret to their long and happy marriage is loving one another and being kind to each other. Fay says it's about respecting one another.

"Be true to one another and have respect. And don't get into too much debt," she cautioned.

Wise words from someone who made marriage vows 65 years ago, and kept them.