Still sweethearts after 65 years

By Genevieve Helliwell

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When Mike Leaf first set eyes on his future wife Dori, he knew she was the one.

"I knew as soon as I saw her. We were at a dance in Whirinaki in Northland. [There was] just something about her."

"And when I first saw him, I thought he was a bit of all right," Mrs Leaf said, remembering back to when she was 22.

"We met through his brother. We went to a lot of dances back then and we went to the movies. We had lots of fun," she said.

About a year after they met, the sweethearts became husband and wife, marrying in 1947.

For most of his adult life, Mr Leaf worked on the railways as a shunter and a guard.

His job saw him move around the country - from Northland to Waikato to Edgecumbe then to Tauranga, where the couple has lived for the past 52 years.

Mrs Leaf had various jobs before their family life blossomed and the couple had eight children.

Fast forward 65 years and the Leaf family has grown, along with the couple's love for one another.

Mr and Mrs Leaf have 20 grandchildren and 31 great-grandchildren, some of whom celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary with them yesterday.

Family are at the centre of their hearts. "We're a very close family and very noisy. We're full-out all the time and everyone talks over one another but we're a great family," Mrs Leaf said.

All but one of their grandchildren has lived at their home after leaving their parents' in a transition to flatting.

"And we've loved it," Mrs Leaf said.

"When they were old enough to go clubbing they would come here and camp out and I never knew who would be here in the morning ... and on New Year's Eve we would have tents in the garage with the kids and all their friends. I loved it," she said.

Sitting in the lounge of the Otumoetai home they've shared for the last 28 years, the couple recalled fond memories of a long and happy marriage.

"We've always gotten along really well. Even when we had absolutely nothing we were always friends. We did everything together," Mrs Leaf said.

"It's been fun," Mr Leaf said. "She's the greatest thing that ever happened to me."

In response Mrs Leaf leaned over from her seat and gave her husband a kiss on the cheek.


What else happened in 1947?

February 22: Tom and Jerry cartoon Cat Fishin'is released.

July 7: A supposedly downed extraterrestrial spacecraft is reportedly found in Roswell, New Mexico.

July 10: Princess Elizabeth announces her engagement to Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten.

- BAY OF PLENTY TIMES

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