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Alec and Joan Celebrate 70 Years of Love and Laughter

on the Friday, September 22, 2017

Alec and Joan Gagino are the warmest and friendliest couple who have a wicked sense of humour. They also have a love story that movies about and still make each other laugh today. The couple in their nineties have lived at Bolton Clarke Inverpine Retirement Village in Murrumba Downs for over twenty years and on 14 September they celebrated their 70th Wedding Anniversary.

The couple are a delightful and fun loving pair who always have each other in fits of laughter and are still very much in love 70 years after they were married.

Alec and Joan were treated to a beautiful afternoon tea organised by Village Manager, Lynda Williams who pulled out all the stops for the lovely couple.

“I have often gone to see them for something really quick and ended up staying for hours having a chat and a good old laugh,” Lynda said.

‘They are a beautiful and inspiring couple who can still make each other laugh after all these years of marriage. They come to all the social events we hold in the village and really enjoyed getting involved in the activities.

“The most impressive thing about Alec and Joan is their truly amazing love story that started during the second World War.” 

Two weeks after the bombing of Darwin at the age of seventeen, Alec Gagino quit his job so he could enlist with the Royal Australian Navy.

Alec was very eager to join however the Navy did not need him straight away and told him to wait till he was old enough. On his father’s advice Alec took a job with a textile company eagerly awaiting the day he could enlist. It was in this textile company he met the lovely Joan, who was just starting out as a designer.

Shortly after meeting Joan, Alec was then called up for service and spent the next three and half years with the Navy serving in the South Pacific as an Engineers Writer.

Despite being so keen to join the Navy Alec admitted to us he is unable to swim.

“For our training we had to wear a mask, really heavy boots and climb into a swimming pool and walk along the bottom, I was terrified. I didn’t have the heart to tell them I couldn’t swim,” he said.

During his time in the Navy Alec visited many countries in the South Pacific but one of the most memorable was visiting Japan after the bombing of Hiroshima.

“It was a very eerie and desolate place to visit, but the one thing that stood out to me was the grass was growing amongst the rubble and they said nothing would ever grow there again,” he said.

All this time he and Joan kept their romance alive by writing to each other, once at sea Alec wrote Joan a 73-page letter.

“It arrived at my work on a Saturday morning and it was huge, my boss saw me reading it and I thought I was going to lose my job,” she laughed.

But Joan was a very desirable woman at the time, she remembers how two sailors came to visit her at work on the same day. She was so embarrassed she hid under a desk.

Once Alec returned to Australia he and Joan began seeing each other again.

“He proposed to me on Bourke Street in front of a jewellery shop, he pointed at the rings and said which one you want,” she said.

“I said, hang on you haven’t actually asked me yet, and he said ‘Well will you or won’t you’, and that was my engagement.”

They built their life together starting out with humble beginnings, as many couples did at the time, due to the shortages and restrictions after the war.

The couple reminisce about their first home, car and going camping with their baby daughter, they didn’t have much but they were happy.

They started a cleaning business and moved to Brisbane, Alec continued working into his seventies and the couple moved into Inverpine in 1997.

Despite starting their romance with a backdrop of war and a long separation with only letter writing to keep in touch, Joan and Alec have now been happily married for nearly seventy years.

Joan says the secret to a long and happy marriage is communication.

“Alec is starting to lose his hearing but continues to nod in agreement with what I am saying and say “Yes Dear”, blind acceptance is very important,” Joan said.  

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