Ruth is the human interest reporter and a photographer for the Bay of Plenty Times.

Renewed vows for 60th anniversary

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Each time one of Frank Bethell's daughters got married he has told them one piece of advice - stick by your husband. Something his wife has done for the past six decades.

Mr Bethell married his wife, Joyce, 60 years ago today.

Mrs Bethell's father, George Smith, worked with Mr Bethell at a quarry near Katikati when he invited him home for lunch one day in 1952.

"She was just 16 and I was 22. I never thought anything of it, but I thought she wasn't a bad looking girl. I think it was her hair, her hair and the way she was made up. She was very natural."

Sixty years in time sounds a long time, 60 years in life is not that long. It's short.
Frank Bethell

Four years of friendship and courtship led to the pair building a house in Katikati and then marrying surrounded by loved ones, at the St Peter's Anglican Church in Katikati.

Before they wed Mr Bethell would work six or seven days a week, so plans to spend time with each other often had to be cancelled or postponed.

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The couple went on honeymoon to Rotorua, Putaruru, Auckland and Kaitaia before coming back to the Bay of Plenty and starting a family. They had four girls, Lorraine, Allison, Jennifer and Diane, who have had nine children between them.

The Bethells now also have four great-grandchildren.

"Sixty years in time sounds a long time, 60 years in life is not that long. It's short," Mr Bethell said.

Common interests such as gardening coupled with mutual respect and love kept the pair together over the years, he said.

When Mr Bethell, now 86, used to arrive home each day after work, often after dark, Mrs Bethell would quickly go to kitchen mirror and do her hair. She would often pop on some lipstick, too. She always made sure she looked nice when her husband came home.

"When I came home, everything was in order. The kids were settled, the house was clean, no matter how much mess they had got into during the day. So, when I got home everything was nice so I could sit down and relax."

Mr Bethell also volunteered in the local fire brigade for 25 years as well as being in St John for 10 years.

When there was a call, Mrs Bethell would lay out her husband's gumboots and coat and then leave the door open so he could leave the house as quickly and easily as possible.

Mrs Bethell, now 80, said as far as she was concerned her husband was the head of the house.

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"He came first. Frank always came first before the girls. If I was going to cook something for tea, it had to be for dad. What he liked. He was the bread winner. He was the one who went out in all the weather and cold while I was at home in the warmth. We didn't have to work at it. We just went along together."

Mrs Bethell said anything which needed to be decided upon was first talked about and then agreed upon.

Mrs Bethell hoped she had many more years with her husband with the pair renewing their vows this weekend in front of friends and loved ones.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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