70 years later couple still making the right choices

HAPPY ANNIVESARY: Ballina couple Jim and Val Kean celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary on September 27.
HAPPY ANNIVESARY: Ballina couple Jim and Val Kean celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary on September 27. Graham Broadhead

LIFE is all about choices.

Jim Kean and his wife, Val, from Ballina, both made the right choice.

The couple on September 27 celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary.

It was not a particular choice of the pair to mark the milestone in the rehab ward at Ballina hospital - Jim is in hospital recuperating for a few weeks.

But they made the most of it, with hospital staff joining in the celebration.

The story of their life together begins with a crucial choice made back in 1946.

Jim was in the Royal Australian Air Force, stationed at the Evans Head base for 12 months.

He was all set to take off to a dance in a local hall when he had a "tiff” with his date.

But he went to the dance anyway, with the aim of making up with the woman.

In the hall, Jim was on approach to the lass but said it became very obvious she was still not happy with him after their afternoon disagreement.

It was then he spotted Val, and asked her to join him for a dance.

Val agreed, and the pair met up again the next day at the beach, beginning a courtship of almost 12 months.

Val was the youngest of 14 siblings - with 10 girls in the mix - so Jim had to earn the approval of a very protective father.

But he managed to win him over, and Jim moved to Sydney, with Val,, and the pair married at Penshurst on September 27, 1947, returning to Evans Head some time later to settle.

"She was a beautiful dancer,” Jim, now aged 90, remembers of Val that night.

"And she had such a happy personality.”

Val, now aged 86, also was impressed with Jim's ability on the dance floor.

From that first dance, the couple have been together ever since, having one child, two grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

Val said a successful marriage was all about "give and take”.

She said she and Jim enjoy a lot of the same things, like going to the beach and fishing.

Jim said he didn't have enough money back in 1947 to take his wife on a honeymoon, but topped that by saying his life together with Val has all been a honeymoon.

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