Parkes couple, Mary and Wilbur Stuart, celebrate 70th wedding anniversary

Well known Parkes residents Mary (nee Webb) and Wilbur Stuart celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary last week.

Mary, 89, and Wilbur, 95, are clearly still very much in love.

Wilbur says the formula to a long and happy marriage is to always communicate with one another.

“There are no secrets - that’s the secret,” he said.

Mary said Wilbur is a fantastic husband.

“We’ve been very fortunate,” she said.

“I don’t think we quarrelled in our lives.

“If something displeased us, we simply kept our mouths closed.”

Wilbur remembers one occasion they may have been slightly testy with each other.

“We didn’t agree on whether you should go and find that snake out at Bindogundra,” he said to Mary.

“Or whether I should cut the wood,” she said.

“He didn’t like me cutting the wood, he always joked I’d cut my leg off,” Mary laughed.

Mary was born in Parkes in 1928 and Wilbur in Murrumburrah in 1922.

Wilbur moved to Parkes in 1945 to work in the engineers office of the railway.  

He started his career with the railways in Goulburn.

“I was trying to join the army, but during that time there were restrictions under the manpower regulations,” Wilbur said.

“They wouldn’t release me from the railway to enlist.

“I said a girl could do my job, I was just a junior clerk, but they didn’t take any notice of that.

“Then they transferred me to Sydney and gave me an adult position, I was a junior in an adult position.”

While Wilbur was in Sydney the railway advertised in its weekly notice for volunteers to go to the Commonwealth railways in the Northern Territory.

“I applied and was accepted,” he said.

“I was employed at Katherine for two years before coming to Parkes.”

Mary was born in Parkes and went to Parkes Public and Parkes High School.

Both Methodists, the couple met through the Church.

Mary said her mother would invite people over to her home on Sunday evenings for tea.

“We would invite people from the congregation and also the airman from the air school,” she said. 

“We used to have a lovely time.”

Mary and Wilbur married in the Parkes Methodist Church in 1948. 

They had four children Kerriean (Hood), Sharyn (Robinson), Margaret (Nealon, deceased) and Tom. 

They have both been heavily involved in the Church throughout their lives and very community minded, quietly helping anyone in need. 

Among many other roles in the church, Mary was a Sunday school and scripture teacher for 50 years.

After her own children were grown she worked as a teachers aid at Parkes East Primary School for 17 years.

Wilbur stayed with the railway in Parkes and after being employed in every job in the office, retired from his position as Chief Clerk at 62.

Wilbur is turning 96 in September and Mary turns 90 on April 27, they will celebrate all three occasions with as many family members as possible next month.