After 50 years of marriage, June and Eric Wood of Baulkham Hills, say they still love each other’s company and are thankful for the life they have built together, based on shared interests, a love of travel and ballroom dancing, family and faith.
The pair celebrated their Golden Wedding Anniversary on December 30 last year with a dinner attended by their four children, their grandchildren and some close friends.
They also gave thanks for their life together when they attended the annual Diocese of Parramatta Marriage Mass at St Patrick’s Cathedral on October 28.
“We went to the Marriage Mass on our 35th anniversary too,” June says. “It’s a special Mass. So many people these days don’t remain married for various different reasons, so you do have to give thanks for 50 years.”
Eric, an only child, was born and raised in England, arriving in Sydney as a 15 year old in 1960 when his parents migrated here.
After leaving school, he worked as an electrical apprentice with June’s brother, Ken, and, when their company was holding a Ball, he asked Ken if he thought June would be his partner.
“Mum sort of coaxed me to go to the Ball with him,” June says. “We had a nice night and after that we were friends for a while and then we started going out, to tennis and car trials, dancing and more balls.
“We discovered we had lots of things in common. Well, I wasn’t really into car trials, but I learnt to be!”
The couple was married at St Margaret Mary’s Parish in Merrylands on December 30, 1967.
June, who was a teacher in Catholic schools, was an active Catholic and a member of the Catholic Youth Organisation and Children of Mary, while Eric belonged to the Church of England.
“In those days if you married someone who wasn’t Catholic you couldn’t get married at the main altar, you had to be married in the sacristy,” June says. “But there was a nun at the school I was teaching at, who had a word with the old Irish priest at St Margaret Mary’s Parish and he arranged for us to be married, at the altar, with a Mass for the Octave of Christmas. Not a nuptial Mass, but a Mass!”
A few days later, they sailed for England, where they spent the next two years, living, working and travelling. The pair also travelled widely across Europe, as well as to Canada and the United States.
“It was a good start to our marriage,” says Eric. “Because we had to rely on each other. We only had each other and we did everything together. It really taught us to be there for one another.”
When the couple returned to Australia, they “didn’t have two cents to rub together”, except for a house deposit they had saved before they left.
“We built this home and moved in six weeks before our first baby was born,” June says.
After the birth of first daughter Meaghan, three more children soon followed – Ian, Siobhan and Liesl. June and Eric now also have nine grandchildren.
June returned to teaching, after 11 years at home raising their children, first at Our Lady of Lourdes Primary School in Baulkham Hills and then 25 years at St Paul the Apostle Primary School Winston Hills, retiring at age 65.
Eric worked in the electricity industry for 30 years, initially for the Electricity Commission and then for Prospect Electricity, which became Integral Energy.
He became Catholic at the same time Meaghan was baptised and faith has been an important part of the family’s life.
“I thought it was better to be united in our faith and I was going to Mass with the family anyway,” he says. “My parents also became Catholic afterwards.”
Today, Eric remains an acolyte at Winston Hills Parish and June is an Extraordinary Minister of the Eucharist. She was on the parish sacramental team for many years. Over the years they have both taken Communion to the Sick and have also been on the Parish Council.
The children are all grown and married, with two daughters living in Western Australia, another at Kellyville and their son on the Central Coast.
Asked what they think has kept them growing together as a couple over the years, Eric says compatibility and time spent together are the key ingredients.
“We were compatible to start with,” he says. “We had similar interests and those interests have developed together over the years.”
June agrees, saying they are a couple who enjoy each other’s company.
“I think it’s also the things we’ve shared,” she says. “We shared our dreams. In the beginning and right through the years, we talked a lot about where we were headed in life and how we would bring our kids up.
“We’ve always made sure we had time to be together, even if it was just talking together over the washing up at night when the kids were in bed.”
Now, in retirement, June and Eric have maintained their love of travel and also enjoy different interests. June loves gardening and goes line dancing a couple of times a week and remains involved with the Trefoil Guild of the Girl Guide movement in which she used to be a leader. Eric maintains his interest as a train enthusiast and the pair both enjoy bushwalking, theatre and the Probus Club.
June says it doesn’t feel like they’ve been married 50 years, until she stops to consider “everything that’s happened” over those years.
“I certainly can’t imagine life without us being together,” she says.