John and Val Finn are the first to admit they aren’t romantic, but there is an undeniable connection between the two which is reflected in their 65 years of marriage.
The pair first met at Dubbo in 1947 while John was in town with the Wellington Cycle Club, and although it wasn’t love at first sight, Val said they had a connection.
John (19) and Val (17) began dating, and five years later this turned to marriage.
Val recalled their first date which consisted of a day trip to Parkes with family, only for the tyre of their vehicle to fall off along the way.
“We spent a lot of the day on the side of the road… I don’t suppose you could call that a date,” she laughed.
But they made amends shortly after with their first “proper” date at a ball in Dubbo.
John and Val married at a Catholic Church in Dubbo in November 1952. They went on to have five children – Brian, Susan, Robyn, Gary and Danny, and are now the proud grandparents of 17 grandchildren, and 14 great-grandchildren.
John recalls spending valuable time together as they established a business in Wellington. ‘John Finn’s Welding Works’ was a big part of their life from 1969 until 2000, with Val in charge of the books and John leading the workshop.
They spent many hours together travelling the country for work, as members of Wellington’s Vintage Car Club, and volunteering their time together in community work.
Another significant moment of their life together was building their family home, consisting of around 3000 hand-made cement bricks.
The home is fittingly referred to as ‘The house that Jack built’.
In 2012 the Finns received a letter from the Queen congratulating them on their Diamond Wedding Anniversary.
When asked what aspects of their relationship have made it such a success, John answered “Val’s cooking” without hesitation. He added that minimal arguing was also a big factor.
“We worked hard and never worried about that,” he said.
Val agreed it’s important not to take an argument “too far”.
Daughters, Robyn Davis and Susan Green, said while it is rare to see their parents share affection, they show their love in other ways.
Susan said their strong family ethic is important to them, and their love has been reflected through time shared together be it as community work, with the car club or their business days.
“They are never apart,” Robyn said.
“Their working life was together, everything they do is together – it’s like two sides of the one coin.”