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Resident Story: Graeme and Ethel’s blue sapphire bond

TriCare Retirement Communities are wonderfully diverse, and everyone has a story to tell. It is a privilege for staff who get to hear from residents first-hand – in fact, the tales are so rich that they deserve a bigger audience. We hope these blogs provide insight into the amazing lives of our remarkable residents. This week we meet Hayville Retirement Community residents Ethel and Graeme Kearns, who recently celebrated an incredible 65 years of marriage! Their story, as recounted by Ethel, features family, faith, and plenty of new experiences.

Family adventures

Ethel and Graeme took the plunge on the 22nd of January, 1958. The pair were blessed with a mild summer’s day in Wellington, New Zealand, the perfect conditions to start what was to become a lifetime of special moments together. “I can hardly believe Graeme and I have been married for 65 years!” Ethel reflects. “As I think about it, immediately numerous video clips jostle with each other to play in my mind scenes from those years.”

Ethel and Graeme made their home in Temuka, on the South Island of New Zealand, and soon after welcomed their first bundle of joy – a son, Warren. The little family moved to Chelsea in Victoria, where daughters Roslyn and Bronwyn were welcomed into the family circle. After further travels in South Australia and Tasmania, the opportunity arose for Graeme to manage a 200-bed general hospital and nursing school in Surabaya, Indonesia, run by the Salvation Army. The Kearns packed their bags and set off on a new adventure that spanned the next few fears. During this time, Graeme also worked as the principal of the Salvation Army Bible College in Jakarta.

The family’s involvement in the church led to further moves – first back to Australia, and then on to Taiwan. This adventure involved Graeme heading up several Salvation Army churches and kindergartens, as well as a day-care education and therapy centre for children living with intellectual and physical disabilities.

TriCare welcomes Graeme and Ethel – and their superb family!

Eventually, the couple moved back to Australia and soon after, took up residence in our Hayville Retirement Community. Ethel and Graeme immediately set about making Hayville their home – and they have now been part of the community for thirty years!

The biggest blessing for the couple has been seeing their brood grow and grow over 65 years, with eleven grandchildren joining the family. “Would you believe it? We have a “team” of ten adorable granddaughters and one cherished grandson,” Ethel beams. With the passage of time, though, the Kearns’s blessings multiplied – now there are fifteen great-grandchildren for the couple to love and cherish! “We have been blessed beyond measure,” Ethel says.

Along with the highs, there have of course, been lows. Ethel and Graeme had to bid farewell to their beloved son, Warren, who passed away after battling cancer. Later, SIDS claimed the life of a cherished granddaughter, who, in her short life, had stolen the family’s hearts. Ethel has accepted these sad events with equanimity. “It is happenings like these that have not only saddened our lives but at the same time have enriched our understanding of life,” she says.

A high tea 65 years in the making

TriCare Retirement Living Hayville Graeme and Ethel
Graeme and Ethel at their 65th Wedding Anniversary High Tea

To ring in 65 years of wedded bliss, a celebration was in order, and Ethel and Graeme’s children delivered. The extended family gathered to celebrate in style with a superb high tea. The couple were amazed at the special greetings that arrived by mail – cards and letters wishing them all the best from all sorts of dignitaries, including His Majesty King Charles, The Governor General of Australia, The Governor of Victoria, The Prime Minister of Australia, and the Premier of Victoria. 

TriCare Retirement Living Hayville Graeme and Ethel

Nowadays, the couple enjoy being part of their Hayville community and keeping up with the happenings of their large brood. Ethel has taken up researching her family history, recording stories from the past three hundred years, right up to the present. She finds it fascinating to see the ways in which the lives of ancestors, and more recent family members, have developed. “I have learned a lot about people, the circumstances that shaped their lives, their resilience and how a positive attitude can enhance everyday living,” Ethel says.

We’re sure you will join all of us at TriCare in wishing Graeme and Ethel all the very best on the occasion of their blue sapphire wedding anniversary! Thank you to Ethel for sharing the couple’s adventures – what a wonderful story, filled with love and the blessings of family.

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