Jim and Irene Smillie met and married in Scotland, where they both grew up. After 68 years of marriage they still live close by each other at Enliven’s Levin War Veterans Home – Irene in the home and Jim in the dementia wing.
“It’s wonderful to be able to offer both levels of care to this devoted couple,” says Levin Home manager Michelle Day. “Their individual needs are met, and they can be together whenever they want to.”
The pair met when Irene was at a Girl Guides meeting and Jim was there at the same venue leading the Scouts.
Irene says her first impression of Jim, as he was ordering people about, was ‘who does he think he is?’ But she was instantly attracted to this “new face in town”.
Love grew when they found they had plenty in common such as enjoying life with friends and family and valuing the opportunity to work hard.
Jim’s occupation was as a coachbuilder, while Irene was a calculation operator. In the days before computers, she would calculate sales and accounts.
The couple emigrated to New Zealand after their marriage – living in Wellington for most of their working years. They semi-retired to Rotorua for a brief time, before settling in Levin where they have lived for more than 30 years.
When asked what the secret is to her parents’ long and happy marriage, daughter Fiona Smillie says their personalities complement each other perfectly.
“My father always looks on the bright side, whereas my mother is more of a realist,” she says.