Looking back on 65 years together

Looking through photographs from their wedding day which took place at Tapanui Presbyterian...
Looking through photographs from their wedding day which took place at Tapanui Presbyterian Church on May 15, 1959 are Wānaka retirees Eleanor and John Lischner. PHOTO: MARJORIE COOK
For rural Otago teenagers Eleanor Roulston and John Lischner there was never a proposal. They just understood they would get married.

More than 120 people turned up to their wedding at the Tapanui Presbyterian Church on May 15, 1959.

The Wanaka retirees will celebrate their 65th anniversary today with family.

"I don’t know if it was so much a matter of proposing as a discussion between the two of us and agreement", Mr Lischner, 86, recalled.

After first meeting at the Tapanui movies, and then going to a birthday party together, the teenagers began "semi-regular" dating.

"He just kept asking me out because we used to have balls every Friday night, a netball dance or a tennis dance on Saturdays. Our weekends were very social", Mrs Lischner, 85, said.

The Otago-born and raised couple owned the Tapanui Butchery for many years before they moved to Canterbury to focus on breeding and training racehorses.

In 2011, they retired fulltime to Wanaka, where they had enjoyed many summer holidays.

"It is 65 years. I wonder where it has all gone to. And I would be happy for it carry on for many more years", Mrs Lischner said.

Mr Lischner was born in 1937 and educated in Tapanui, West Otago, until he finished primary school.

He spent his third and fourth form years at John McGlashan, in Dunedin, before deciding to return home to work for the family.

Mrs Lischner was born in 1938 at Balclutha and raised at a Toropuke farm near Heriot.

She boarded at Gore High School and planned to study nursing or accounting, but went home aged 16 because her mother was injured.

She cared for her mum and cooked for seven men.

The pair were the third generation of Lischners at the butchery, taking over fully in 1961.

"It was very antiquated, I tell you", Mr Lischner said.

"It was physical manual work. There was electricity in the town, but not at the butchery. We had to haul water from a hole in the creek to wash floors and the yards."

Power got to the shop in the 1970s.

Mrs Lischner did the accounts, paid wages, and raised three children: Keith (born 1960, died aged 50), Lynley (born 1962) and Kim (born 1963).

They belonged to many West Otago sports clubs and societies.

Mr Lischner also served on the Tapanui District Borough Council and other organisations.

In 1988, they had a "senior moment", sold the butchery and moved to Ashburton to begin breeding and training racehorses.

Mr Lischner had already started this successful "hobby" in Tapanui. He had a lot of triumphs in the harness game, winning national premierships and big races. From 3331 starts, his horses grabbed 563 wins, with total stakes of more than $4 million.

After 17 years in Ashburton, they moved to West Melton to help set up a training facility.

Mr Lischner was inducted into the Addington Hall of Fame in 2014.

Mr Lischner said their story was a joint one.

"Eleanor was involved in everything I did and we worked together."

After three years at West Melton, they moved into Christchurch to be closer to grandchildren, then moved to Wanaka after the Christchurch earthquakes.

Their daughter, Kim Crawford, said her parents were "a great team" and "absolute role models".