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Family gathers for 75th wedding anniversary

Stella and Leslie Sempf celebrate 75th wedding anniversary
Stella and Leslie Sempf with their marriage certificate, registered 75 years ago.

A 75-year wedding anniversary is a rare milestone but the key to achieving it is apparently a simple matter of give and take.

Bundaberg couple Leslie and Stella Sempf will celebrate 75 years of marriage with a special family gathering at the couple’s Avenell Heights home on Saturday.

Married on 12 December 1945, Leslie, 97, and Stella, 96, have three children, 13 grandchildren, 32 great-grandchildren and two great-great-grandchildren and more than 40 members of the family are expected to join in the celebrations.

Originally hailing from Moffatdale near Murgon, the couple have lived in Bundaberg for almost 50 years and Stella said she was excited at the prospect of having so many family members gathered in the one place.

“Yeah, I’m looking forward to it,” she said. “All the little shrimps and all the bigger ones – all standing around me waiting for a coin,” she added with a laugh.

“It will be lovely to see them all. It will probably be the last time – I don’t think I could last too may more years.”

Although with three of her aunts having reached 100 years of age, Stella’s genes may indicate that there are more family gatherings ahead for her yet.

Stella said there was nothing secret to the couple’s longevity together.

“It’s just give and take,” she said. “Sometimes, you have to swallow your pride a little bit.

“Sometimes you get a bit niggly, but you turn around, then come back, and it’s gone. We’ve never, ever had a quarrel.”

The couple have come a long way together, having married and moved on to their Moffatdale farm where they did not even have a vehicle for the first six months.

“(Leslie’s parents) used to take us to town once a month to pay the bills and then bring us home,” Stella recalled.

“Then we got a car, it was actually a big army truck.

“We had cows, pigs, potatoes, onions – everything you could think of to make money. We sowed wheat.”

Given the timing of their wedding, shortly after the end of World War II, establishing their first home on the farm was difficult for Leslie and Stella but they managed with the help of friends and family and Stella remains grateful for the help received.

“You could hardly buy a knife or a fork or anything,” she said. “But all the relatives gave us something they didn’t use – a jug, a frypan or a saucepan, because you couldn’t buy it.

“I know what they gave us, I still remember. We appreciated it.”

Stella said a love of tennis, church and family connections had brought the pair together and that she and Leslie had lived happily together since.

“It’s been just the same as every day, the years just went,” she said.

“We love Bundaberg. We don’t go anywhere else (these days).”

Stella said the couple were delighted to receive a letter of congratulations from Mayor Jack Dempsey recognising their achievement.

“I couldn’t believe it, it’s a lovely letter,” Stella said. “I’ve never got one before – I was surprised really.”