Married 75 years - and counting!

Stanley and Elsie Harris who recently celebrated their 75th wedding anniversary – and are arguably one of the last couples in Australia to receive a congratulatory card from the Queen for this very rare milestone celebration.

Next year they’ll get one from King Charles III.

Stanley and Elsie are no stranger to royal cards! They received one from the Queen for their Diamond Wedding anniversary (60 years).

Traditionally couples can ask for royal cards for their 60th, 65th and 70th anniversaries and every year thereafter! Just as well Stan and Elsie didn’t! They would have racked up an astonishing eight cards and quite possibly have run out of shelf space to display them!

The couple, both aged 94, now live at Uniting AgeWell Sorell Community, Ningana and on August 16 marked what is so rare that it is simply referred to as a Second Diamond Wedding Anniversary.

This time around they kept things low key, with champagne and cake with some family members. Mind you, with 10 children and a clan of 108 direct descendants, holding a full family gathering would rival a flash crowd turning up!

Their other anniversaries were far bigger occasions. For their 50th Stan and Elsie hired out virtually the whole of the Kingston Hotel for a huge bash. And for their 70th wedding anniversary, they roared off in the sidecar of a Harley Davidson for a joy ride.

The couple met at a country dance outside Hobart when they were 18 years old. “I thought she was the most beautiful girl in the world,” Stan recalls. They were married about 18 months later.

A busy life ensued. Stan and Elsie both came from farming families. Stan worked at a variety of jobs in the agricultural sector, as an orchard hand and a truck driver. He later became a bus driver and also worked in a couple of government jobs.

Meanwhile Elsie had her hands full raising ten children – and when they were old enough, joined Stan working in fruit picking and packaging. Later on she worked as a cook in the city. During this time they also ran a small fruit hobby farm, with the help of all the children.

Daughter Jeanette Harris remembers everyone in the household always being busy with household chores and farm work. “Before we had a washing machine, Mum used to boil nappies in a copper over the outside fire, and we all had our chores, helping with the cooking, milking the cows and picking fruit. ”

And she recalls the singing. “Dad would play the guitar and sing country and western, and Mum would often sing in the morning to wake us all up. I remember how we would all sing while we picked raspberries. It made us laugh and kept our spirits up.”

But it was not always shades of the Von Trapp family. “Mum was passionate about her garden, she loved the lush, overgrown look. And then Dad would roar through with his clippers and cut it all back and she’d be hopping mad!” Jeanette laughs.

Jeanette recalls her Mum’s favourite saying: “There’s no such thing as ‘can’t’; there’s only ‘don’t want to’. This saying, together with the example my parents set, instilled in all 10 of us the attitude that if you work hard enough, you can achieve anything you want to.”

Elsie and Stan moved into aged care when their health eventually deteriorated a few years ago, and they are happy and well looked after at Ningana in Sorell.

Stan still likes to read, play with his model cars, and loves listening to Country and Western music. Elsie can still recite poetry, knows all her 108 direct descendants by name and likes to listen to singing groups that perform at the facility.

And their sage advice on a happy marriage?

Elsie says it’s being patient and tolerant, and being grateful for what you have.

And Stan says: “Never go to bed angry, because for starters you won’t be able to sleep, and the problem will still be there the next day!”

And after 75 years, their advice is still working.

Learn more about Uniting AgeWell Sorell Community, Ningana