After their eyesight failed, they stopped playing Scrabble, and golf, and working in the garden, but Noeline Hurst (nee Watson) and Culmer (Collie) Hurst still get a lot of joy from their loving, tight-knit family.
Mr Hurst, 96, and Mrs Hurst, 90, will mark their 70th wedding anniversary on June 12 this year, and last weekend they celebrated with their family at their son’s place at Willow Park.
The Hursts have two well-known sporting sons, Doug and Ian Hurst, who live near their Papakaio home, and a daughter, Sue Ross, who lives in Collie Hills, at Hakataramea. The Hursts have 10 granddaughters and one grandson, and 20 great-grandchildren.
“We’re both very lucky to still be alive, enjoying our family, grandchildren, now all our great-grandchildren,” Mrs Hurst said at home this week. “We’re so lucky to have them all it keeps us going, I’m sure.
“They’re very close-knit, even the children. They get along so well; there’s no friction between any of them.”
With both Mr and Mrs Hurst now legally blind, the couple stay at home at the Papakaio farm where Mr Hurst has lived since he was six, enjoying each other’s company these days, but they once golfed together, shared a passion for tennis, loved to garden, and they played a lot of Scrabble, too, before their eyesight went.
“We used to play two games of Scrabble . . .” Mr Hurst said.
“Every night,” Mrs Hurst said.
“Just the two of us,” Mr Hurst said, finishing the sentence.
Even when Mr Hurst was laid up in Timaru Hospital after a surgery, Mrs Hurst brought the Scrabble board up to his hospital room and they played.
The games were, Mr Hurst recalled, “very, very competitive”.
“Noeline did all the counting, but I kept an eye on her to make sure she didn’t cheat,” he said.
The couple met towards the end of 1943.
Mr Hurst was a member of the Royal New Zealand Air Force at the time and had just got his wings and he was home on his “wings leave”.
“She was working in an office in a garage in Oamaru. I happened to go through there and we met just clicked like that took her to the pictures that night and from then on, it’s all on.”
He could not remember the film they saw that night, but “when you’re holding hands, it doesn’t matter”.
Because Mr Hurst was off training in various places around the country, the two did not see each other until the end of the war in 1945, when he returned home to his father Archibald Hurst’s farm.
Mrs Hurst wrote three or four letters to him every week while he was away.
They were married at St Paul’s Church in Oamaru on June 12, 1947; it was a Tuesday, and it was “very, very wet”, Mr Hurst said.
The couple went “up to Blenheim and back” for their honeymoon.
“It poured with rain,” Mrs Hurst recalled. “The whole time we were on our honeymoon, it poured with rain.”
Perhaps the old saying about rain on a wedding day was true, because 70 years later, they still loved each other.
This week, Mr Hurst called himself out for not being the romantic type.
“I’ve never been a romantic, very seldom I’d say it against myself very seldom have I given Noeline flowers,” he said.
“Only out of the garden,” she said.
“Never down on my hands and knees to propose,” he said. “None of that. I just get on with the job, in my way.”Otago Daily Times