AFTER 12 years of courtship Tom and Jeanette Ellis were married at St Paul’s Church of England, Gloucester and 50 years on the pair are as happy as ever.
Not one to rush into things, Tom recalled how the pair knew each other through school, but it was not until Tom’s final year that any sparks flew.
Their mutual interests brought them together, with their first memories of a relationship coming from a day of mixed tennis.
Both Tom and Jeanette were born and bred in Gloucester and came from farming families, with Tom the captain of Gloucester High School and Jeanette a prefect the following year.
Over the initial 12 years their lives would take them in different directions and, although they spent some time apart, “we always came back to each other,” Tom said.
“I got to know the road between Gloucester and Taree pretty well once I’d moved and Jeanette was still at home.”
Later he would follow Jeanette to Newcastle when she went to attend college and finally the pair announced their engagement at a New Year’s Eve ball at Gloucester, in front of friends and family.
“I’d always said that I wouldn’t ask her to marry me until I had a house,” recalled Tom.
“So I bought my first place at Chatham and then it was time.”
An excerpt from the Gloucester Advocate in 1964 recalls the Ellis wedding and described Jeanette as a “radiant bride” supported by her cousin and sister, while Tom was attended by his cousin and brother.
They would honeymoon in Adelaide, before coming home to settle in their new home, which Jeanette had had the pleasure of decorating.
The Ellis’ soon welcomed daughters Kellie and Lynn and have since been blessed with three grandchildren.
Tom was a dedicated and successful businessman, having started Ellis and Butler Pty Ltd with good friend Eric Butler.
He was an auctioneer and real estate agent and contributed considerably to the local agricultural sector, earning an OAM for his efforts in 2009.
The OAM joined a long list of other achievements and awards and Tom said that these were as much Jeanette’s as they were his own.
“I never could have achieved what I did without Jeanette running our home life,” he said.
“I put in hours at the office and she put in countless hours at home, she deserved the praise as much as me.”
The pair has always loved travelling and made a point of heading off on a big overseas trip every two years together.
“Tom was so dedicated to work that if we went to Forster or Coffs Harbour for a holiday he’d end up back in the office,” said Jeanette.
“So I put my foot down and knew the only way we’d get a good holiday together was to go overseas,” she laughed.
They have been to America, Canada, London and Europe and Tom said it was travel that made him truly realise that “shared experiences are what make experiences”.
“We’ve only ever travelled together and we have such wonderful memories,” he said.
But when it comes to what makes their marriage work, the answer is quite simple from both Tom and Jeanette.
“Jeanette’s got her opinions, I’ve got mine and we talk about everything,” explained Tom.
“If you don’t have a mutual agreement then it doesn’t get done.”
While Jeanette added her own secret to success: “What’s mine is mine and what’s Tom’s is ours,” she laughed, before adding “don’t go to bed angry”.