Love, faith, friendship at heart of couple’s 60 years together

DIAMOND ANNIVERSARY: Betty and Don McDonald will celebrate 60 years of marriage August 24. Photo: JUDE KEOGH 0821jkann2
DIAMOND ANNIVERSARY: Betty and Don McDonald will celebrate 60 years of marriage August 24. Photo: JUDE KEOGH 0821jkann2

For Betty and Don McDonald – respect, friendship and faith are at the heart of their 60-year marriage.

On August 24, they’ll celebrate the milestone.

Over the past six decades they’ve lived in the Central West and in the Riverina and have travelled the world, living in the US and working in Myanmar.

“Our love for each other is on very strong foundations, we have strong bonds of friendship and our bonds with our children,” Mr McDonald said.

“Be ready to forgive your partner when things don’t go exactly to plan,” Mr McDonald said.

Mrs McDonald said the couple were determined to “stick with it”.

“You have your ups and downs. You hold on tight to the promises you made on your wedding day,” Mrs McDonald said.

They met on a farm near Cargo in 1954 during the wheat harvest when Mrs McDonald came home from Bathurst Teachers College.

Mr McDonald was working for Mrs McDonald’s dad Sid Davis, as part of his agricultural science degree which required 12 months practical work on a farm.

Don and Betty in 1957.

Don and Betty in 1957.

By 1957, Mr McDonald was working in Leeton as a rice-breeder.

The couple married at Cranbury, outside Cargo in August.

Their first home was on an orchard where the floorboards had rotted and carpet was used to seal the cracks – except the wind would lift the carpet off the floor.

That home cost 30 shillings ($3) a week and a cow had to be milked everyday.

As well as contending with the cold and early starts, Mr McDonald said he once found a brown snake in the outhouse.

“Milking the cow was pretty easy, I came off a diary farm, until Sunday when [the cow] would hide behind the trees,” he said.

At work Mr McDonald bred the first Australian long-grain rice while Mrs McDonald taught students at Yanco Primary School.

They were joined by their first son Ross in 1959, Warwick in 1961, their eldest daughter Sue was born in 1963 and Jane was born in Canberra in 1963.

They’re devoted grandparents to seven grandchildren and eight great grandchildren.

Mr McDonald’s research took him to the US, where he completed a PhD at Texas A&M University.

Their fifth child Sonya was born in America, but only lived for a few hours.

The McDonalds moved to Orange in 1981 when Mr McDonald became the government’s regional director of agriculture until retirement in 1994.