Wartime sweethearts unite after 63 years
By RACHEL SCOLLAY
HARRY RIGBY carried Ruth Parsons' photo with him throughout the whole war.
However, the lovebirds didn't meet up again for 63 years.
This weekend, Harry and Ruth are headed back to the place where it all began ? Kyogle, circa 1938.
And they couldn't have picked a better weekend for it, with the Kyogle High School 50-year reunion and dinner proving such a drawcard that the whole town is completely booked out.
"My father was a minister in the church over in Kyogle," Harry said.
"And Ruth used to sing in the choir with my mother when she was a teenager.
"We both had a crush on each other, but then I joined the air force in 1940 and Ruth went away to the army.
"Neither of us went back to Kyogle, so we grew apart."
Harry spent the war in New Guinea and Borneo and married on his return to Sydney.
"We came to live in Lismore in 1948," he said.
"My wife and I were married for 55 years, and I looked after her in her later stages of Alzheimers."
Harry said that when his wife died, one of Ruth's sisters saw the bereavement notice and rang looking for him.
While he was chatting with her he suddenly remembered the old photo of Ruth he had kept with him right throughout the war.
"She was 'my girl at home'", he said.
"So I went looking in my writing case and found it. And there was a picture of Ruth sitting on a horse."
After 63 years, when the pair finally met again, it was 'yak, yak, yak', he said.
Meanwhile, with such an unusual courtship, it's not surprising the couple have a less than orthodox relationship.
At 83, Harry regularly competes at the National Masters squash titles and reckons he has a real chance of taking out his age division next year.
Meanwhile, he says Ruth, 80, is 'a legend in her own right in the greyhound world in Sydney'.
Ruth has a house and eight grandchildren in Sydney, while Harry has a house and six grandchildren in Lismore.
He said initially they were going to do six-month stints at each house.
"But it didn't work out. We ended up with clothes here, food there. Now we just go where the spirit moves us."