Alan and Kath Saunders celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary on September 26.By Kaitlin Thals
Alan Saunders’ heart skipped a beat.
It was at that moment he vowed ‘‘that’s the girl for me’’.
It was 1949 and Mr Saunders was just 18 years old. He was playing in a band at a ball at Tungamah, north of Benalla, when he spotted an ‘‘attractive girl’’.
‘‘Some call it love at first sight,’’ Mr Saunders said.
‘‘Turned out this lass was Kath Mallows from Wilby; she was 16.’’
On September 26 this year, Goorambat’s Alan and Kath Saunders celebrated 60 years of marriage.
‘‘It’s good to reflect on your marriage vows, that was ‘death do us part’,’’ Mr Saunders said.
He said the vital ingredients to a happy marriage were love, trust, faith, fidelity, truthfulness, compassion, communication, companionship, forgiveness and respect.
‘‘And the keeping of the royal law — which is doing unto others as ye would that they should do unto you,’’ he said.
Mr Saunders said after he set eyes on Kath at the Tungamah ball all of those years ago, their love quickly blossomed.
After four years of courtship they were married at the Methodist Church in Wangaratta by Reverend Len Elderidge.
Soon after their honeymoon to Canberra and Sydney, the newlyweds purchased the Goorambat Post Office.
‘‘It was all manual phone calls in those days as we provided continuous service,’’ Mr Saunders said.
Their three sons — David, Bruce and Neville — were born at Goorambat.
Later the family relocated to Melbourne where Mr and Mrs Saunders worked at Fawkner South Post Office, and had their fourth child — Heather.
Mr Saunders said Shepparton was the next place they called home, and were the proprietors of Organ World which sold pianos and organs.
‘‘The love of my life was to get back to the farm known as ‘Wood Park’ where I was born in 1931,’’ Mr Saunders said.
‘‘This had great sentimental value as my great-grandfather, William, who came from England in 1844 when he was four years old, was one of the early pioneers of Goorambat.’’
Mr Saunders’ great-grandfather selected 320 acres of land one mile east of Goorambat about 1873; he paid one pound ($2) per acre for it, and secured the release of Crown Lands in the colony authorised by Queen Victoria.
Mr Saunders said his grandfather, Frederick, took over the property in 1900 when he married his grandmother, Zillah Sanger.
‘‘Likewise, my father, Jack, became the new owner when he married my mother Doris Walker in 1926,’’ Mr Saunders said.
Mr Saunders’ father continued to farm for 48 years and when he retired in 1974 his properties passed to his sons.
Mr and Mrs Saunders said now they were both in their 80s, it must be soon time to call it a day after 40 years of ‘‘happy farming’’.
‘‘I guess the next generation will carry on the tradition,’’ Mr Saunders said.
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