MERNDA residents Bill and Nancy Barber will celebrate 60 years of marriage on Thursday – a milestone admired by their children.
Despite having to celebrate at home due to COVID-19 restrictions, Mr Barber said it was still a special occasion.
Mr Barber said he met Mrs Barber when she had just turned 14 and he was 15.
“I met Nancy when we went to the Royal Melbourne Show and I was with two of my mates,” he said.
“Nancy was there and we didn’t really speak, she wasn’t too sure of me.
“I’d ride my pushbike to see her. I must’ve been very energetic back then.
“As time went on, we got engaged years later.”
At the ages of 18 and 19, the couple got married, moved to Montmorency where they lived for 42 years, raising three children – Linda, Joanne, Dean and Tracey.
They now have 11 grandchildren and one great-grandchild.
Mr Barber said they moved to Mernda eight years ago, and made an effort to be involved in the community.
He said being part of a close-knit community aided his marriage because he always had people to rely on.
“I think the secret was being part of a close community and we found the people were helpful with anything we needed,” Mr Barber said.
“On my street here in Mernda, one person will cut someone’s grass out the front, the other will take the bins up. We all help each other out.
“Sometimes we had arguments, but you’ve got people you can go to. [A friend] will ring me up and say ‘let’s go get a coffee’.”
Mr Barber said being friendly to everyone and smiling wherever he went was something he always did – but it could sometimes get him in trouble.
“If an older lady walks past me and she smells nice, I’ll turn around and say ‘oh I love your perfume’, and Nancy always said ‘Bill, you’re flirting again!’” he laughed.
“But anywhere you go, if you’ve got a smile on your face, people will do anything for you.
“It’s not about having a different football team to [them], or a different skin colour.”