Aileen + Jerry

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The love story of Aileen and Jerry sees a meeting of opposites, and a unity that spans over more than 60 years. Jerry is the middle son of a tribe of three, raised a few kilometres outside of Culcairn, NSW, on his family’s sheep and wheat farm. Aileen is the daughter of a railway worker, an only-child brought up amidst the hustle and bustle—the heart of the local town.

Their first encounter, the setting where “farm met city”, happened at the local Presbyterian Church. Jerry was captivated by the way that Aileen so caringly taught the children at Sunday School, and Aileen instinctively knew there was something about Jerry that she was drawn too.

The pair wed on May 17, 1952, and Jerry can still warmly recount how he asked Aileen to become his wife. “We organised a weekend in Melbourne. Aileen stayed with a friend and I stayed with my aunt. I went around to where she was staying and got down on bended knee to propose. Then we went into the city to Cattanach’s Jewellers and chose a ring. It needed to be made smaller, so we had lunch at the Presbyterian Tea Rooms while we waited.”

Aileen and Jerry raised their children on a farm in Cobargo, NSW, teaching them strong values by encouraging them to help others through their service to the community. Aileen was a member of the Australian Red Cross and the Country Women’s Association, and won Citizen of the Year at one point.

The couple’s helpful nature is a consistent trait passed down in their family, one that is well recognised and upheld. “I would say the most inspiring thing about my grandparents is how generous they are to everyone. They give so much of their time, finances and wisdom to all. They are super friendly and very involved in the community, and have left a legacy for generations to come,” says granddaughter Angela.

While their service to the community has been particularly inspiring, the most resounding quality of this pair is their character towards each other. It is clear that their marriage comes first, and with this value, the rest of the challenges of the world simply fall by the wayside. They are able to journey through life’s trials and triumphs together, hand-in-hand, armed with a strong commitment to each other.

And they have been through their share of trials with operating a dairy farm, but one particularly momentous challenge was the day that Aileen gave birth to her son. “My Gran gave birth to my uncle in the car on the side of the road because they lived on a farm and my granddad couldn’t be found, so they left too late!” says Angela.

If you were to ask Aileen or Jerry how their marriage has stood the test of time and continues to flourish after 60 years, they will give you the humblest of answers. They see marriage as a place of security and happiness, and summarise it as bliss.

To meet them is to see a true example of contentment, with Jerry demonstrating an effortless patience towards Aileen, and she him. They are dedicated to each other, no matter how difficult things can be at times.

Aileen and Jerry show that marriage is a lifelong institution that must be worked at continually, with a lot more giving than taking.

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