Partnership clocks up 65 years

Still together . . . Geraldine couple Frank and Pam Kippenberger recently celebrated 65 years of marriage. PHOTO: SHELLEY INON

It might not have been a whirlwind courtship for Geraldine couple Frank and Pam Kippenberger, but it has been a lasting one.

The retired couple recently celebrated 65 years of marriage.

For Mr Kippenberger, there was no ‘‘aha’’ moment when he realised he needed to marry his wife — instead the idea had just grown on him.

The couple met after Mr Kippenberger moved to Glenavy in 1955 to work on a poultry farm.

Mrs Kippenberger — then known as Pam Dawe — waited until 1959 before agreeing to marry him.

‘‘I was making sure,’’ she said.

She worked in Oamaru at the bank, and — when home — she helped her mother with her younger siblings; with 12 children, her mother had a lot on her hands.

On Saturdays she would go to Oamaru with Mr Kippenberger, where she and his sister would play netball while he played rugby.

That ended when he sustained an injury to his knee while playing in the North Island for a regional representative team.

As Mr Kippenberger did a lot of work for the community hall, he would see her at those events.

He said they both enjoyed dancing, and when they were courting they would head to Scottish dances together.

Like her husband, she could not pinpoint exactly when Mr Kippenberger had become the one.

‘‘We didn’t have many fights, really.’’

After their marriage, the couple bought bare land in Glenavy, with Mr Kippenberger building a poultry farm and house on it.

He said the land had been covered in gorse and broom, which he had cut and left to dry.

When the weather was not too dry they would have bonfires, he said.

Mrs Kippenberger ran the poultry farm while he worked in other jobs.

He said apart from feeding the poultry morning and night, the rest of the duties were left to his wife.

‘‘I’d be home at midday and she would be down at the shed with the children in the sun.’’

Wedded bliss . . . Frank Kippenberger and Pam Dawe on their wedding day in 1959. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

The couple had been very involved with the Glenavy community; between the two of them they were involved with most organisations in the area.

‘‘Pam was the brains, and I was the brawn,’’ Mr Kippenberger said.

For Mrs Kippenberger, some of those organisations were Women’s Institute and Plunket mothers.

But, she said, ‘‘My stroke of fame was being the first woman on the school committee.’’

Despite juggling running a poultry farm, parenting three children, keeping a nice flower garden and volunteering a large chunk of time to local organisations, she also willingly put her hand up when someone was needed to mow the lawns at the local church.

She said the previous person who had mowed the property was 80 years old and had mowed the lawns for years. Wanting to give the man a break, she had volunteered her time.

That offer for help saw her hauling the large mower into the van to drive it down the road to mow the lawns for years.

As to the secret of a successful marriage, she felt ‘‘there must be a wee bit of luck attached’’.

She said until she had a stroke on May 25 three years ago, the couple had been in good health. The stroke had affected her left side, and she needed to use a walking stick. Mr Kippenberger felt marriages today were not as strong as they had been.

‘‘The stickability is pretty shocking.’’

He felt couples nowadays wanted to have the kind of home they had walked out of when they left home.

One set of parents had bought the couple a kitchen table and chairs, while the other had given them their first washing machine.

‘‘We had just enough.’’

Over the years he had worked on an irrigation scheme, at the freezing works, and on Sir Peter Elworthy’s deer farm.

As with his wife, work had not stopped him from volunteering. He had continued helping the local hall and volunteered at the Glenavy fire station for years.

After the couple retired and moved to Geraldine the volunteering had not stopped, with Mr Kippenberger involved with the Geraldine Historical Society for more than 25 years and Mrs Kippenberger at recycled clothing shop Rosies.

After their busy working lives, the pair had taken well-deserved holidays, travelling around Australia and New Zealand on bus tours, as well as taking a cruise.

The couple have three children, five granddaughters, one grandson and one great grandchild.