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Wagging school leads to couple's 60 happy years

Col and Leone Gray celebrate their 60th wedding anniversary.
Col and Leone Gray celebrate their 60th wedding anniversary. Frances Klein

COLIN and Leone Gray didn't need to be congratulated by the Queen, the Governor-General and the Prime Minister to know they had reached a milestone.

Their four children, 12 grandchildren and eight great grandchildren marked their diamond wedding anniversary last month with a big family celebration and surprise cake.

You only have to spend five minutes with the couple to know they make a great team and the meaning of the occasion for them is in the blessings they've counted in their 60 years of marriage.

"It's a lot of give and take," Leone said.

"We very rarely argue. I can't even remember when we had our last argument."

Col, who celebrated his 80th birthday earlier in the year, jokes he's done four life sentences already. But he adds that it takes patience and tolerance to stay together.

"If you argue, well that's tonight and tomorrow's a different story," he said.

"You shouldn't give up when the going gets rough; you know what they say; when the going gets tough the tough gets going."

The couple's story began in 1950 when they met at a dance at Bald Hills. Col, 18, was from Toombul and Leone was a 15 year-old school girl from Mooloolah.

"I was there because I had wagged high school for a week and went to stay with my aunty and uncle who owned a Country Club Hotel at Strathpine," Leone said.

As a young lad keen on the new girl in his life, Col used to ride his motorbike from Brisbane to Mooloolah most weekends and go back for work on Monday.

The couple decided they wanted to "do their own thing" and on October 25, 1952 Col and Leone married in a simple ceremony at the St Francis Church of England in Nundah. They fondly remember their honeymoon at Bribie Island, when they borrowed Col's brother's car and were the only people with a car on the barge going across to the island.

They also remember the trying times.

"It was very hard," Leone said.

"I suppose hard is not the right word because you live in your times but we had to battle hard. Col had £5 when we got married and I had nothing. When we built our house it was only two rooms, but it's just a part of your life."

Col and Leone worked hard to provide for themselves and their four children: Robert, Linda, Tony and Christine.

Col was born on a dairy farm and by the age of 14 had left school and was driving a dairy cart. Later, he owned a milk run, bread run and drove trucks for Arnotts. The couple owned several snack bars around Brisbane and the Sunshine Coast and a motel in Maroochydore before retiring, aged 73 and 70, to a property at Goomboorian.

Three years ago they settled into a house at Chatsworth, and now spend their time visiting their extended and ever expanding family.

"It's good for your health to stay busy," Leone said.

"I'd like to still be working, but it's just not possible. We are enjoying our retirement together now."

Topics:  anniversary

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