by Helen Holt
When friends set up Fleur O’Sullivan and Pat Kinney on a blind date 60 years ago, they didn’t expect a lifelong marriage.
Today is Timaru couple Fleur and Patrick Kinney’s 60th wedding anniversary.
The pair met on a blind date at mutual friend Joan McMillan’s work function, but they had eyes on each other in the previous weeks.
“We had walked past each other at church in Oamaru,” Mr Kinney said.
“The first time I saw her, I thought to myself, ‘I wonder who that girl is?”‘
Mrs Kinney was equally intrigued.
“I said to my friend, ‘who is that?’, and she must’ve got the idea to set us up. ”
Mrs McMillan had asked Mrs Kinney to come with her to a work function for the Inland Revenue office in Oamaru.
Mr Kinney said he was originally asked to babysit for the couple, but they found someone else so that they could set the pair up.
“She said to me ‘I can find another babysitter so you can come too’.
“We absolutely hit it off from the first moment. We knew it was right for us.”
Seven weeks later they announced their engagement.
The pair owed a successful marriage to always wanting the best for each other, working together and always being grateful.
“Not just when it suits,” Mr Kinney said.
“Not just sometimes, but always be grateful for what you have.”
Mrs Kinney said his gratitude was important for when they first got married.
“When we got married, I didn’t know how to cook. I would start cooking dinner at the beginning of the day, just in case I messed up and had to throw it away and start again.
“Pat was always grateful and thanked me for every meal.
“Our children always learnt to be grateful. Whenever they went to a friend’s house, the parents always commented on how grateful they were.”
The diamond couple, both from small Central Otago towns, have lived in Oamaru, Invercargill and Timaru, moving to the latter 32 years ago.
They had five children, 11 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.
They also individually had strong careers, Mr Kinney a builder and later a supervisor at a rehabilitation centre. Mrs Kinney was a Plunket nurse, and the first nurse in New Zealand to deliver a baby.
Despite a 10-year age gap, the pair had no doubts about their marriage.
“I prayed hard to have a lot of time with him,” she said.
“He has had some health troubles, but he’s 92 now and still going.”
They shared a love of gardening and a strong faith.
Mrs Kinney said they could still surprise each other.
“The other day on my birthday, Pat didn’t have a chance to buy a card so he made one.
“It means more to me than any bought card could ever mean.
“Whatever it was when we first met, it grew.”