“60 years of marriage have gone by very fast because, having a large family, we’ve been constantly involved in their lives throughout,” said Marie and Gary Joblin of St Mary’s Parish, Whanganui, who reached this milestone on February 16.

“With six children, 24 grandchildren and 16 great grandchildren there’s always something happening. Whether attending graduations, helping with a paper run or operating as a taxi service,” said Marie. Always helping with problems and not turning family away has been their guiding principle. Their saddest time was the tragic death of a 6-week-old grandchild from heart complications.

The couple’s romance first blossomed in Dannevirke where Marie worked as a typist and Gary as an accountant at the Public Accounts Office. Their’s was the second marriage in the new St Joseph’s church after it was opened in this southern Hawke’s Bay town.

Shifting to Whanganui in 1970 was a schooling decision. “We were adamant to give the children a good education,” said Gary.

In the parish, they helped initiate the Christian Family Movement. Gary served on the finance committee and Marie still works at the St Vincent de Paul Shop.

For seven years, the couple owned the popular Joblin’s Dairy, a block away from Whanganui Collegiate in the main street, Victoria Avenue. Marie met Prince Edward in 1982 when he was Junior Master at the collegiate for two school terms.

“The then-Mayor Ron Russell and Collegiate headmaster Ian McKinnon wanted to give the young Prince as normal existence as possible even with his two bodyguards constantly close by.” The story went that both these men sent him down to the Joblin’s not long after he arrived.

“Next the Women’s Weekly had done a story and my photo appeared on the front page about my encounter with royalty,” said Marie.

Gary’s first cousin Emeritus Bishop Peter Cullinane celebrated a House Mass on February 11 prior to their anniversary date. At the Mass, they renewed their marriage vows, much to the pride and joy of their large family.