Bert and Shirley Penny celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary on Wednesday, June 24. Photo: PAUL MENSCH
By MITCH RODD
PLATINUM may well be the traditional gift for 70 years of marriage, but Shirley and Bert Penny’s love is iron clad.
The couple celebrated seven decades of wedded bliss on Wednesday, and while COVID-19 restrictions have meant the busy duo have not seen as much of their friends and family in recent months, they were flooded with well wishes during the week.
Shirley and Bert are living proof that age is just a number, with both of them in their 90s, the good humour and cheek they displayed when sharing their memories with the Mildura Weekly hints at the energy of people half their age.
Bert summed up his feelings best when he leaned into yours truly and said: “I’d marry her again tomorrow”.
One would need an encyclopaedic platform to do proper justice to the Pennys, as living life to the full has been a mantra they’ve well and truly followed.
It was on June 24, 1950, at the Mildura Methodist Church on Deakin Avenue, when Shirley, 22, and Bert, 23, tied the knot.
Afterwards came their four children, daughters Dayle and Anne, and sons David and Gregory, six grandchildren and now five great grandchildren.
Shirley spent almost 40 years as a marriage celebrant, and believes she was the first woman in Victoria to do so.
She only recently gave up her post as a Justice of the Peace, as well as volunteering numerous hours to help those less fortunate.
Many residents may also remember Shirley as the Mayor of Mildura in 1991 and 1992.
Bert spent much of his life as a master builder and as part of the fire brigade, while also holding prominent positions at the Mildura Masonic Lodge and the Mildura Football and Netball Club. He still claims to be a one-eyed supporter of the red and black, harking back to the Demons old colours before their current red and blue uniform.
Travelling has also been an important part of their lives for the Pennys. Following their honeymoon in Adelaide, the family would spend time tracing their family roots in the United Kingdom, as well as exploring the USA and Europe and much of Australia.
Shirley said the children loved travelling so much the family ‘passed’ on having a television many years ago so that any money they saved could go towards their next trip.
Bert also built the house the couple currently live in 61 years ago, and being a master builder you can bet it’s still standing strong!
When prompted for advice for a recently engaged man, Shirley and Bert simultaneously said: “Be kind, and talk it out”.
“Never go to bed angry, always talk out any issues you may have,” Bert said.
“Like anybody we’ve had our disagreements, but we’re open, honest and kind to each other,” Shirley added.
If there is any marriage one could aspire to emulate, you could do much worse than Shirley and Bert Penny’s.