When June and Ray Baken met in 1953 Ray saw a lot of the back of June's head.
They were training to be Salvation Army officers and June sat in front of Ray in class.
Celebrating 65 years of marriage this month, the Palmerston North couple now shine as they sit side by side helping each other answer questions about their lives.
Their affection and devotion are evident as they hold hands, laugh and reminisce.
June remembers the nine-month course in Wellington as full on and there was not much time for socialising.
"You didn't actually see much of the other sex," June says.
The men and women had separate living quarters and after they finished their training June and Ray were posted to different parts of the country.
Ray says this was a deliberate move by church leadership to see if their relationship would stand the test of time.
"Let us check those people and make sure they have got the real McCoy," is his perspective on the leaders' thinking.
June was attracted to Ray's enthusiasm and sense of purpose and Ray to June's intelligence and faith.
"June was the lady I was looking for ... this was the one that really took hold of me and she met everything I had in my mind," Ray says.
"She was in the Salvation Army what we call boots and all, she was as dedicated to the Salvation Army as I was."
The courtship continued via correspondence and they married on January 7, 1956, in Timaru.
They wore their officer uniforms and stood facing the congregation.
"I remember looking down when he arrived beside me thinking he's got new shoes," June says.
For their honeymoon, they went by bus to Oamaru to stay at a friend's house but things didn't quite go as planned.
"When we got to the house we couldn't find the key, it wasn't where they said it was," June says.
"Then we went on to Stewart Island which I thought was so exotic."
Ray, 93, was born in Christchurch and eagerly joined the navy in 1944, training as a telegraph and wireless operator.
He served for 10 years and earned the nickname Bluey on account of his red hair.
"I came back from sea and then I met my good lady," Ray says.
June, who turns 89 on Monday, grew up in a crib built by her father at Shag Point in North Otago. The 1920s crib is still in her family.
The couple say shared faith is the reason for their long and happy marriage.
"So when the times are rough you can trust God to be looking after whatever it is you are concerned about and between you support each other in that matter of faith," June says.
The Bakens had five children with two daughters and two sons still living and they have nine grandchildren.
They spent 13 years working for the Salvation Army and moved to Palmerston North in 1965 where they changed careers.
Ray taught at Monrad Intermediate and Palmerston North Boys' High School and June at St Peter's and Tararua colleges.
They continued their church service holding senior lay roles in the Salvation Army.
Late in his career, Ray trained as a guidance counsellor and worked at Tararua College.
He retired in 1987 to play golf and was a regular gym goer until he was about 87.
They are both 50-year survivors of cancer.
Ray says their marriage "turned out better than alright, it turned out marvellous".
"We were meant for each other and we have been happy ever since."