By Staff Writer Sheree Hoddinett
For true love to stand the test of time, you often think of a fairytale or a story from a book. But there is one real love story out there that has had all the usual ups and downs of a relationship and they’re still going strong after 60 years of marriage. On December 9, 1961, Steve and Gwendoline Warner tied the knot and haven’t looked back since. It may not have been love at first sight when they crossed paths back in the early years of their lives, but this couple shows the true value of what everyone aspires to have in a happy marriage.
Steve and Gwen first met when they were at school in Capalaba back in about 1953. They didn’t really know each other or have much to do with each other until they reconnected in their teens.
“When we came back together after school, I didn’t know that Gwenny had seen me on a tram in Queen Street one day,” Steve said. “She was with a mate and said, ‘I know that man.’ Her friend said ‘That’s Steve Warner and he comes to a club at the local church’, and Gwen said she was keen to go. So she organised it all and she came to say hello and it went from there.”
Just a couple of years later they were married. At the time Steve’s mum was quite ill in hospital and Gwen wanted to ensure she didn’t miss out on being a part of it all.
“Steve’s mum was very sick,” Gwen said. “Because Mrs Warner was so ill, we decided to get married and after the service we went and saw her in the hospital. I’m the only daughter-in-law she met. She passed away a month later but I’m so glad we did that for her.”
In the years that followed, they were blessed with one son and three daughters and their family has also extended to include seven grandchildren and also three great-granddaughters. Both Steve and Gwen speak fondly of their memories over the years, recounting stories of travelling the country for Steve’s job in the printing trade, family camping trips, fishing, boating misadventures and the times where they both had to help each other through injuries.
“Steve had a tractor that ended up catching fire and he had second degree burns which required skin grafts,” Gwen says. “The year before that happened I cut the top of my right thumb off while removing grass from the mower. There was a lot involved in recovering from that but we did it together.”
They may have moved a few times over the years but Bongaree is now their home, having lived on the island now for the last nine years. It was a choice they made when it came time to downsize from their Beenleigh property and find somewhere to retire. Time with their family is still important to them to this day but Gwen believes what worked so well for them was organisation and knowing what the other person needed at the time.
So, what is the secret to staying married so long?
“We were married quite young,” Steve said. “It’s not a matter of sticking it out though, you either love a person or you don’t. If you have to stick it out you obviously don’t love them.
“I love this lady, I adore her. It is give and take and recognition of the other person. You always try and put that person first.”
“Other than love, it’s a game of give and take and compromise as well as working together,” Gwen adds. “While Steve was working many hours it was up to me to look after things at home as much as I could. I would even mow the lawns so he wouldn’t have to and if we wanted to go somewhere I was all organised with the kids. It was how we made it work.”