Our LiveBetter Mackay couple, Patricia and Graham Hunt, were featured in the Asian Beacon Contemporary Christian Magazine in 2009. This is their story.
One day, eight-year-old Graham Hunt came home from school and announced to his parents that he was going to marry schoolmate Patricia Lecky when he grew up. Sixteen years later, the Australian lovebirds tied the knot in 1959 at the South Perth Methodist Church. Now living in Petaling Jaya, they will be celebrating their golden anniversary on May 9, 2009.
“Patricia never knew it, but deep down in my heart, I knew she was the right one and I was going to marry her,” enthuses Dr. R. Graham Hunt, a chiropractor.
Like in every love story, theirs has its share of hurdles: long distance separation, military interference and even a rejected marriage proposal.
“It must have been my divine providence that we’re together again after so many years on our separate paths,” Graham says.
Graham and Patricia, both 73, first met in school in Merredin, Western Australia. Graham’s mother was then serving as a Salvation Army Officer while his father served as a Red Shield Officer in charge of soldiers’ welfare during World War II. Patricia’s father was a prominent businessman.
At age nine, Graham and his parents moved to Melbourne, Victoria. Although he and Patricia kept in touch, they did not see each other again until Patricia, now sweet sixteen, joined the Young Australia Leauge and travelled to Melbourne with a group of young people. They were staying at a Girls Grammar school, close to where Graham was living. He decided to pay a visit!
“Someone told me that a young man was looking for me,” Patricia recalls. “I did not recognise this ‘young man’ who was now six foot tall. I told myself ‘Goodness me!’ How has he shot up!’” Patricia was by now five-foot-two.
After meeting, letters and phone calls were more frequent. After a year at Agricultural College, Graham headed to Perth to visit Patricia, who had just started her teachers training course at Edith Cowan University. On one memorable date, Graham, seventeen, proposed to her. Patricia responded, “Don’t be stupid!”
Early Easter morning that year, 1953, Patricia watched Graham fly off. He was going to work as a stockman – “chasing cattle on horseback” – in the Kimberly region, where his father served during the war years. So while Patricia finished her studies and started her teaching career, Graham travelled around Australia, working on cattle stations, riding in rodeos and, at times, singing for a living. The letters and phone calls became infrequent.
In 1956, Graham joined the Royal Australian Air Force. Upon graduation from the Air Gunnery School at East Sale, he was posted to join No. 1 Bomber Squadron RAAF, stationed in Tengah, Singapore. The squadron was assigned to fight against the communists in Malaya.
In January 1958, Patricia informed Graham that she would be coming through Singapore on board a ship heading to Europe. Unfortunatley, Graham’s crew was then ordered to fly down to Australia. Defaulting in the mission so as to “meet his future bride” would mean being court-marialled!
Graham visited his future in-laws in Perth, where he expressed his concern of losing his sweetheart to some “Debonair Pom” (aka Englishman), but Patricia’s mother assured him, “Don’t worry, she’ll be back!” The letters then got more frequent as Patricia toured England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and 12 other countries on the continent. It had been more than five years since they had seen one another. Graham finally put his proposal in writing in a letter, which Patricia recieved while in Geneva. She said “yes!”
“Imagine how excited I was when she agreed to marry me!” says Graham. The rest is history.
Their first daughter, Diane, was born on Mother’s Day, May 8th 1960 – a day after Patricia’s birthday and a day before the couple’s wedding anniversary.
“Before marriage, I could never remember Patricia’s birthday, but I guess she must have planned everything so well,” says Graham, “it’s a string of dates I never forget now!”
Challenges still laid ahead for the young family. Living in Townsville, Graham served in the Air Force, while Patricia taught mentally-challenged children. Graham had to fly off to distant places for weeks on end, leaving his wife to look after two lovely young children.
“Townsville is at times subject to cyclonic weather,” says Graham.
“When threatening storm clouds closed in, the call would go out for all aircrew to report to base to fly the aircraft to southern destinations. Leaving my family behind in that situation was hard. Love and faith in God was the only answer.”
When Graham resigned from the RAAF to study Chiropractics in Canada, Patricia become the family breadwinner as a teacher in Toronto, Ontario, where they lived for four years. They had never before experienced a sub-zero winter.
“Our two daughters thrived on it, while Patricia froze,” says the amused Graham. The family moved to Malaysia in 1997 when Graham accepted a full-time job as ‘Chief Doctor’ with a chiropractic clinic in Petaling Jaya. “Now Patricia loves the warmth of Malaysia.”
When Asian Beacon met up with them recently, they had nothing but praise for each other.
“I always feel safe when ever I am with him because he would always protect me and our children,” says Patricia. “Even our children would agree with me. If anything went wrong, they would say, ‘Don’t worry, Dad will fix it!’”
“I always admire him because at seventy-three, he still keeps on working,” she adds. “While most people would have retired, he still keeps a full-time job. He also meets up with officials from the Ministry of Health.”
The admiration is mutual. “Patricia has always been a great school teacher both with slow learners and bright kids,” Graham says. “She works hard always and simply loves the children she taught. Her gentleness is what melts my heart.”
“She has been a great partner in our marriage. I could not have done what I have done without her,” he concludes. “After being together for fifty years, I have never failed to admire her devotion both to the Lord and our family.”
Today, the couple have four grown-up daughters, Diane, Leona Zelda, Natalie and Simone, and twelve grand-children – “enough for a football team,” says Graham, with a laugh. When asked to pose for the camera, Graham draws closer to Patricia and gives her a kiss.
“We recommed young couples should always do this,” quips Graham, with a contented smile.
After nearly fifty years, this couple are a wonderful example of contented matrimony.