Busy couple reach marital milestone

Wanaka motel owner-operators Bill and Marjorie Durry, who celebrate their 60th wedding anniversary today, have always led an active lifestyle. Photo by Lucy Ibbotson.
Wanaka motel owner-operators Bill and Marjorie Durry, who celebrate their 60th wedding anniversary today, have always led an active lifestyle. Photo by Lucy Ibbotson.
Keeping busy is the secret to a healthy life and happy marriage, Wanaka couple Bill and Marjorie Durry say.

The pair - both in their early 80s and still working as motel owner-operators - celebrate their 60th wedding anniversary today, and are certain their active lifestyles and shared love of sport, travel and people has helped them reach the marital milestone.

''We were never idle. In fact, we believe to keep well is to be busily involved with body and mind,'' Mrs Durry said.

They first met as teenagers in Dunedin when Mr Durry - an apprentice carpenter at the time - was altering the building where Mrs Durry (nee Pybus) was working as an office girl.

''She said she would meet me at a St John's dance and I went there with some football guys,'' said Mr Durry, a former Otago Colts player.

Encouraged by their mutual interest in sport, they went on to enjoy a ''platonic friendship'' for six years, Mrs Durry said.

During that time, her future husband worked hard at restoring her family's home, which had fallen into disrepair after her father died when she was in her early teens. Eventually, their relationship developed into something more and the pair got engaged, then were married on January 24, 1953, at St Martin's Church in Northeast Valley.

''I've never had another girlfriend, ever. She's had plenty of boyfriends,'' Mr Durry said with a chuckle.

The couple's long association with Wanaka was sparked in 1948 when 17-year-old Mr Durry helped members of the Otago Alpine Club build Aspiring Hut. In 1962, as a self-employed builder, he built four holiday homes in Wanaka. He subsequently built the family's holiday home there before taking on a more ambitious project - constructing the Panorama Court accommodation complex on Lakeside Rd, which the couple opened in 1969 and is still operating. After running the property for 24 years, they sold it and Mr Durry, a former Lake

County councillor, built the neighbouring Durry Hills Motel which opened in 2000 with ''a view to die for'' over Lake Wanaka, and is still run by the couple today. They have no intention of retiring, as being motel hosts brings endless opportunities to meet ''terrifically interesting people'' from all over the world.

The couple have two children - son David, who helps out at the motel after recently returning from England, and daughter Jayne, who lives in Australia - and one grandchild.

Despite being ''workaholics'', their lives have not been all work and no play. They have both been successful in their respective sports over the years and have travelled together extensively. They still regularly play golf in Wanaka, and close the motel for several months every winter to escape to Australia, where they own a house overlooking a golf course.

They are celebrating their anniversary in Nelson with their extended family.

- lucy.ibbotson@odt.co.nz