Rockhampton couple celebrate rare marriage milestone

YOUNG LOVE: Jack and Dawn Livingstone were married on September 23, 1946.
YOUNG LOVE: Jack and Dawn Livingstone were married on September 23, 1946. Contributed

IT STARTED with two teenagers, eager to catch a glimpse of each other as they worked in outback Queensland.

Although they were soon separated, love blossomed despite the distance as the pair wrote to each other continuously.

Over 70 years later, Jack and Dawn Livingston are celebrating their platinum wedding anniversary, a milestone only a rare few couples reach.

The pair met in Longreach where Dawn, then 16, had grown up.

Jack, just 17, had moved to the outback town with the Bank of Australasia, having studied in Rockhampton after growing up on a property near Koumala.

Each day, Jack would exchange cheques with another bank and walked past the drapery shop where Dawn worked.

Eventually Jack plucked up the courage to ask Dawn out and, after her parents also gave approval, the pair went to see a Western movie.

They never looked back, continuing to write to each other even after Jack was transferred to banks in Townsville and Herberton.

"I just saw him and thought 'he'll do',” Dawn said.

"He's a good bloke and he knows how to do a lot of things that he's taught me.

"I would never have found anybody who put up with me as much as he has.

"He was very good, he used to tell me how to do things, show me how to do them.

"We were happy. I wouldn't trade him in.”

PLATINUM CELEBRATION: Jack and Dawn Livingston celebrate their 70th wedding anniversary, having met when their were teenagers.
PLATINUM CELEBRATION: Jack and Dawn Livingston celebrate their 70th wedding anniversary, having met when their were teenagers. Michelle Gately

When the Second World War was declared, Jack enlisted in the Army, while Dawn signed up with Air Force and worked in intelligence.

The pair met up when they could both get leave and for several months were seeing each other frequently, but Jack was eventually sent to Bougainville Island.

It came as a shock to both, with no warning before Jack's unit was sent to Papua New Guinea.

"We didn't have time to say goodbye to anyone,” Jack said.

"Eventually we caught up through correspondence, but it was pretty tough old going.”

It was while he served here that he proposed to Dawn in a letter.

She accepted, but was left with the task of finding an engagement ring.

Stationed near Brisbane, Dawn and a few friends went AWOL and hitch-hiked into the city where there was just three rings to choose from, the rest having been snapped up by visiting American soldiers.

The pair were married in Cloncurry on September 23, 1946 in what Jack described as a real "bush affair”.

"The whole town turned out to see it I think,” Dawn said.

The couple honeymooned on Daydream Island and later settled in Rockhampton after Jack was discharged from the Army and went on to have four children Ronald, Noel, Marilyn and Paul.

Jack went on to work for an insurance agency as a salesman, a role which saw him covering hundreds of kilometres of Queensland countryside from Winton to Blackall and Maryborough.

"I did that for eight or nine years and suddenly I was getting old and getting a bit jack of driving that far,” he said.

Jack was later elected to the Rockhampton Hospital board and served for 33 years, 18 of those as vice president.

"I really loved it,” he said.

"In those days we quite often had the press at our meetings ... people knew what was happening at the hospital.”

Through his involvement with the Liberal Party, Jack came to know Rockhampton's iconic mayor Rex Pilbeam and later ran his campaign to secure the Rockhampton South State Government seat in 1960.

"He was very good to me,” Jack said.

"He was a rough old diamond, but he got things done.”

It was Rex which gave Jack the next chapter of his working life, encouraging him to apply as manager of the new senior citizens centre Scotia Place.

"I started a new part of my life which I'll be very proud of for the whole time I live,” Jack said.

"It was a great personal satisfaction that I could go home at the end of the day and felt we'd helped a lot of people.”

Jack managed Scotia Place for 30 years, with Dawn by his side the whole time volunteering at the centre.

"I was glad when the day came that we told them we had to ease up,” Dawn said.

"I don't think we'd be here if we hadn't.

"We were working day and night and all to help other people.

"It was a good life, but you never had time to scratch yourself.”

Now, the pair are happy to relax and enjoy life and retirement together.

Both said the key to their 70 years together was communication.

"I think the secret is always to talk to each other,” Jack said.

"It's the only way to go because otherwise conflict will arise.”

Topics:  70th anniversary, 70th wedding anniversary, community, life, marriage, wedding anniversary

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