Is this the most memorable wedding anniversary ever? 16



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It was Winston Churchill who said, “My most brilliant achievement was my ability to persuade my wife to marry me”. He believed that was more important than staring down Hitler and everything else he accomplished in his long life. When he died aged 90 in January, 1965, he and Clementine had been married for more than 56 years.

Karam and Kartari Chand live with one of their sons Paul and his family.

And when a wedding anniversary comes around, it is always a celebration with the family and the couple have eight children, 27 grandchildren and 23 great-grandchildren. That in itself is a considerable achievement but it is hardly remarkable for this couple who, on 11 December last, celebrated their 90th wedding anniversary.

Karam who is 110 and his bride Kartari who is 103 live in Bradford (UK) and were snapped by their local newspaper at the celebration quaffing large glasses of wine and grinning like a couple of love-struck teenagers. It should go without saying that they are currently the world’s oldest married couple.

The couple were only teenagers – he 19 and she 13 – when they married in a Sikh ceremony in India which was still under British rule in 1925. They moved to the UK from India in 1965.

Said Paul, “I am so proud of my whole family for helping keep my parents in such good health. It’s a blessing to have them still around and to have them still telling me what to do.” Some parents just won’t let go, will they?

The couple are, understandably, local celebrities – they have even opened a new Westfield shopping centre and traditionally lead Bradford’s local annual parade.

Now they are well on their way to becoming the world’s oldest married couple ever. The oldest verified married couple, Daniel and Susan Bakerman were married in 1772 when what became the USA was still a collection of British colonies and stayed married for an extraordinary ninety-one years and twelve days when she died in 1863. Daniel, the last soldier survivor of the American War of Independence, died in 1869.

Australia’s longest wedded couple was Rowland and Elsie Olarenshaw who were married for eighty-one years Both were over 100 by then and Elsie died in 2012 a week before turning 101.

They met when he was 14 and she was 13 and they lived with their respective families in the same street in Fairfield, Melbourne.

When they celebrated their 80th anniversary, Mr Olarenshaw recalled first meeting his future wife when his father bought a house two doors down from hers.

“We were kids playing in the street more or less in those days. We grew up together,” he said. By the time they were both 19, they were in love and had decided to marry.

It was 1933 and in the middle of the Great Depression.

“Our respective parents were horrified. They said ‘Where is the money going to come from?’” he said.

But young people being young people they thought that love would conquer all and, as it happens, love did. They raised five daughters.

An American couple Herbert and Zelmyra Fisher once held the record for the longest marriage – almost eighty-seven years – until his death in 2011 at the age of 105. She died in 2013 also aged 105.

Towards the end of their happy marriage they were interviewed and were asked for their success secret.

Their tips:

“We grew up together and were best friends before we married. A friend is for life, our marriage has lasted a lifetime.

Remember marriage is not a contest, never keep a score. God has put the two of you together on the same team to win.

Agree that is it OK to disagree, and fight for what really matters. Learn to bend – not break!

There’s no secret to our marriage. We just did what was needed for each other and our family.

Respect, support and communicate with each other. Be faithful, honest and true. Love each other with all of your heart.”

Robert Browning, the Victorian English poet and dramatist wrote, “Grow old with me. The best is yet to be.”

In their own special ways these remarkable couples said and did just that.

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Russell Grenning

Russell Grenning is a Brisbane-based former journalist and retired political adviser who began his career with the ABC in 1968 in Brisbane and subsequently worked on the Brisbane afternoon daily, "The Telegraph" and later as a columnist for "The Courier Mail" and "The Australian". He worked for a string of senior Ministers in the Federal, Victorian and Queensland Governments as well as in senior executive public relations positions, including Assistant Federal Director, Public Relations, for Australia Post, Public Relations Manager for the Queensland Department of Main Roads and Principal Adviser, Corporate Relations, for the Queensland Law Society.

  1. No the most I made was 10 years, then he up and died, then I had a partner for 9 and he up and died. At 77 I don’t think I will even try for another 9.

  2. Love the : there is no secret to their marriage, they just did what needed to be done for each other and their families. Aren’t we always looking for the secrets. We just need to do what is needed.

  3. A very good friend of mine in Canberra has an aunt who turned 100 in January and her husband will turn 100 on 18 February. They have been married 77 years. They are having a joint party this weekend with family and friends. It is very unusual for a husband and wife to live that long.

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