60 years of marriage and still counting

DIAMONDS: Reg and Pat Fanning celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary. Photo: JoJo Newby
DIAMONDS: Reg and Pat Fanning celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary. Photo: JoJo Newby

AFTER 60 years of marriage there's still a twinkle in the eye of Pat Fanning when she talks about the moment she first met her husband Ray.

 

It didn't seem too promising at first, but luckily for Ray he was given another chance.

"I thought he was too mad," Pat chuckled.

"When somebody talked to me at the time about the chance of a bit of a romance with Ray I said I wasn't interested. I thought he was too mad - always the joker."

Ray clearly wasn't deterred at the time though and he can't hide a wry grin from his face while listening to his wife talking about those days.

On Thursday the couple celebrated their diamond wedding anniversary with a quiet lunch at Valley Harvest in Grafton. Their love story began with tennis more than 60 years ago.

In the early 1950s Wollongong-born Pat was a trainee nurse at Grafton Base Hospital when she met Melbourne-born, Grafton-bred Ray during social tennis sessions held at the hospital's now long-gone tennis court.

"When we were young we used to play tennis up there on our days off. They were fun days; there was no drinking involved, it was just good, fun social tennis," Pat said.

It wasn't long before Pat caught Ray's eye though and Pat - while initially uninterested due to the reasons mentioned earlier - eventually came around.

They married on April 11 1953 at the St Patrick's Catholic Church in Mullumbimby.

The marriage was the beginning of a long, busy life in Grafton. Between the couple's involvement in various local groups, charities and sporting clubs, Ray also served on the Grafton City Council for 21 years, including as mayor from 1971 to 1974 and for a time again between 74 and 75.

Reflecting on six decades of being together, the pair highlighted bringing their five children into the world and their countless memories together as standout moments in their story.

When asked what the key was to maintaining such a long relationship, Pat said it was keeping busy, careful management "and a good bit of luck".

"And just being there for each other too," added Ray.



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