Anniversary of couple who served community

WHEN Palm Beach couple Rose and Val Kleem met for the first time 61 years ago in a military hospital in Brisbane, little did they know they would be together for decades to come.

Val, a soldier who served in the Middle East and Papua New Guinea during World War II, was recovering at Greenslopes Hospital from a knee injury while Rose was an Army nurse looking after him.

A courtship bloomed and they were married on May 5, 1945, two days before VE Day.

Last Saturday the octogenarian couple (both aged 81) celebrated their diamond wedding anniversary surrounded by family and friends at their home.

Val agrees it was "definitely" love at first sight for him while Rose thought the polite chap who didn't swear appealed to her.

"He seemed nice, he was polite and didn't swear, he just appealed to me - he was the kind of person I liked and respected," she said.

The couple is a rarity in that they were both awarded one of Australia's highest honours - the OAM, for their services to ex-servicemen and women.

Val, who was Queensland president of the Totally and Permanently Incapacitated (TPI) Association for 12 years, was awarded the OAM in 1992 while Rose, who was the State secretary of the same organisation for 10 years, received hers in 1994.

Rose founded the Tweed-Coolangatta Ex-servicewomen's Association 19 years ago.

The couple, who have four grandchildren and four great grandchildren, started married life on a farm at Young in southern NSW where they ran sheep and grew stone fruit.

Ater retiring in 1979, they moved up to the Gold Coast where they used to spend holidays (at Coolangatta) in their early days.

And their secret to a longlasting and happy union?

"I felt we were pretty compatible - we were forgiving if things went wrong and we didn't hold grudges for long," Rose said.

"Val didn't drink which a lot of young ones did, especially after the war...and living on the land was good for us - I was a city girl."

Val figured it was because "we just seemed to get along well together all the time we had a few arguments here and there but no problems".

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