With Heart | A partnership in life

PARTNERS IN LIFE: Horsham couple Howard and June Rodda, pictured above in 2014, marked 71 years of marriage last month.
PARTNERS IN LIFE: Horsham couple Howard and June Rodda, pictured above in 2014, marked 71 years of marriage last month.

HOWARD and June Rodda marked 71 years of marriage last month.

The couple were married at Dimboola Methodist Church on June 22, 1946.

While it was a somewhat more subdued celebration this year.

June, who will be 91 on July 16, suffered a fall in January and is now in care.

Howard, 94, said the milestone was still special.

“My dear wife is in care at the Lutheran nursing home and when she smiles, everyone smiles,” he said.

“She has a lovely nature.”

Howard and June met in 1945 at a party at a friend’s house.

He was meant to be June’s debutante ball partner, but a height difference meant he was an unsuitable dance partner.

Instead, the pair became partners in life and were engaged in March 1946.

“June was three weeks off 20 and I was 23,” Howard said.

Following their wedding, the young couple moved in with Howard’s grandparents on the corner of Williams and Stawell roads in Horsham, until a home was finished on the family farm in the Tarranyurk district.

June and Howard lived on the property, farming “the usual run of sheep and grain” until 1976 when their son Leonard moved to Queensland to take up farming “in a big way”.

The Roddas made it a family affair.

They followed Leonard to Queensland and made Yeppoon home for 11 years.

Howard and June later returned home to the Wimmera to be closer to daughter Felicity, who lives in Horsham.

Howard said he didn’t really know what the secret to a long and happy marriage was, but it was important for each person to have their own interests and "to not become accustomed to having your own way all the time”.

“We’ve done quite a bit over the years. June was chairman of the women’s Liberal Party branch for 30 years,” Howard said.

“It was the only one really between Melbourne and Adelaide.”

The couple have been involved with the Liberal Party for about “60 odd years”.

Howard ran as a Liberal Party candidate for the then seat of Wimmera at the 1963 federal election.

He received “quite a few thousand votes, but not enough”.

In Yeppoon, Howard was involved in establishing a Liberal Party branch and ran as a state candidate at the Queensland election in 1989.

“It didn’t go so well. They’d never had a Liberal candidate before,” he said.

But while Howard’s political career was “a short, but merry one,” he said many people – himself included – had taken inspiration from Sir Robert Menzies, Australia’s longest serving Prime Minister.

“Sir Robert Menzies was born in Jeparit and many people had personal connections with Sir Robert – or the young Robert Menzies,” Howard said.

“I joined early.

“We formed the Young Liberals in Horsham and I went on the state executive with future leading members of the federal government including Ivor Greenwood who became Attorney-General, and Senator Alan Missen.

“There were many keen young solicitors involved at the time and they had to have very correct meeting procedures, so I got an education in meeting procedure.”

Howard said that knowledge became invaluable throughout his life in assisting clubs, including as an adjudicator of Rostrum public speaking competitions.  

Howard celebrated 51 years with Horsham Lions Club last month.

Although he admits he’s “not so active” these days, he still continues to attend Lions club meetings.

Howard was chairman of the club on two separate occasions and is also a life member.

During his working life, he was heavily involved with farming activities including time as chairman of the Horsham Wheat and Wool Committee and also helped establish the farming museum at Warracknabeal.

“We took a deputation to Premier Henry Bolte,” Howard said.

These days, the Roddas have a unit in Sunnyside Lutheran Retirement Village where Howard continues to live independently, while June resides not far away at Trinity Manor.

Howard said he “managed quite well” in the kitchen and, as a nonagenarian, was even trying his hand at a few new dishes.

“I do my own cooking and have done for quite a few years – I have a good stock in the freezer,” he said.

“I made a terrine the other day and a bit of pastry cooking that I’d never tried before.

“Time flies pretty fast.”

Howard also makes a mean sultana cake and burnt butter biscuits.

“I wouldn’t say they’re my speciality, but they are edible,” he chuckled.

  • With Heart celebrates the great people and great things in our community. To nominate someone you know with an interesting story to tell, phone the Mail-Times on 5362 0000 or email newsdesk@mailtimes.com.au.

My dear wife is in care at the Lutheran nursing home and when she smiles, everyone smiles. She has a lovely nature.

Howard Rodda talking about his wife, June