Needed a dancing date, got husband

Oamaru couple Marian and Stuart Renalson prepare to celebrate their 60th wedding anniversary...
Oamaru couple Marian and Stuart Renalson prepare to celebrate their 60th wedding anniversary today. Photo: Shannon Gillies
Needing a date for her debutant ball got Oamaru’s Marian Renalson a lifetime friend and a life, for a short while, in Papua New Guinea.

Oamaru couple Marian and Stuart Renalson are set to celebrate their 60th wedding anniversary today.

They both  said a sense of humour had helped them stay together, but also a joint belief  if people got married they should stay together and talk their problems through instead of calling it quits.

Mr Renalson (83),  who was born in Palmerston,  said marriage was a life-time commitment.

"I don’t think that thought has ever changed. I’m not saying we’ve never had an argument. You weather them."

The couple met when Mrs Renalson, nee Beatty (80),  needed a date for her leaving school dance at  Waitaki Girls’ High School.

"I didn’t have a boyfriend — never worried about one.’’Mr Renalson’s sister volunteered him for the task.

"I saw him once before and wondered who the old fella with the moustache with the Renalsons was."

The favour grew into a friendship as both families mixed and the couple became engaged, marrying at Weston Presbyterian Church on October 19, 1957.

Mr Renalson worked at Maynard and Armstrong as a carpenter and when he left he went to work as a yardman at McCallum and Co, where Mrs Renalson worked as a typist.

"While I was there I was offered to go to Papua New Guinea. We were then taken over by Fletcher. It was a Fletcher Organisation."

In 1975 they went, leaving one of their three children behind with a relative.Mrs Renalson said her family entered PNG while the country was still fresh from gaining independence from Australia.Mrs Renalson was not allowed to be employed when she arrived in PNG.

"We weren’t allowed to work. Work was for the local people. I tried the golf course, but that little ball and I were not compatible."

Mr Renalson managed timber distribution from a sawmill, including the ship dispatches.

Every day he fended off up to 20 people desperate for work at the mill, he said.

A standout memory from their almost two-year adventure abroad was the difference in temperature.

They came back because Mr Renalson became ill, Mrs Renalson said, and  from then life was what she described as "ordinary", with all the usual ups and downs.

Mr Renalson said he was pleased he had helped out his friend all those years ago.

"I still get to share the bed. The only thing is she’s 80 and not 20."

To mark their 60th they were having a gathering with some family and friends.

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