After 71 years of marriage they’re saying ‘I do’ again
There's a story, famous among the Sue-Tin family, of when Brisbane radio jock Wayne "Waynee Poo'' Roberts called out a distinctive house with a bright pink painted front door decorated with a big white poodle. The house's front balcony was also pink and filled with garden gnomes and flamingoes. Roberts apparently drove past it every day.
It was the late 1970s. Roberts was king of the 4BK airwaves and Lorna Sue-Tin was decorating her house as she damn well pleased.
Lorna, now 89, still lives in the very same two-storey Boondall brick home on Sandgate Rd she shares with her husband Leonard, 91. They have been married 71 years this month.
Since the house achieved notoriety on the airwaves, Lorna has toned the outside down.
On the inside, however, she is still doing it her way. There's a riot of bright pink kitchen cabinetry, leopard print, florals, wild-patterned carpet, bobble head toys, ornaments, an eclectic mix of artwork, Christmas decorations and Chinese curios. The theme is there is no theme.
Vibrant and full of fun, Lorna and Leonard plan to celebrate their 71st wedding anniversary with a bang by renewing their wedding vows in a ceremony at St John's Cathedral, on Ann St, in Brisbane's CBD, where they married on November 6, 1948.
There will be about 70 invited guests at the renewal ceremony with the dean of the cathedral, Peter Catt, performing the service.
Lorna has designed a custom-made dress for the occasion - a long, colourful gown to reflect her love of fashion. She has also chosen a new pink gemstone ring to mark the occasion.
The blushing bride will arrive in an EH Holden similar to the vehicle they owned in their younger days (but not as fabulous as Lorna's original EH that was custom modified with pink paint and leopard-print seats).
Lorna will walk down the aisle to the refrains of I Cross My Heart by country music singer George Strait (Our love is unconditional, we knew it from the start, I see it in your eyes, you can feel it from my heart.)
Their doctor (and friend) of more than 40 years, retired GP Malcolm Godfrey will sing Ave Maria and afterwards the cathedral bells will peal and guests will enjoy an afternoon tea of pink cupcakes and sugar biscuits embellished with the words "We Still Do''.
A REAL LOOKER
Sixteen-year-old Lorna Kunde captured the eye of Leonard who lived on a farm directly across the road from her house on St Vincents Rd, Nudgee, in Brisbane's north.
Lorna, a shop assistant at McWhirters, rode her bike past wearing shorts showing off her "lovely legs" and Leonard thought she was the most beautiful girl he had ever seen.
One day, on the guise of her bike breaking down, Lorna stopped on the road and Leonard, who was pretending to weed the garden, didn't waste his chance. They began courting, going to venues such as Fortitude Valley's Rex picture theatre and Len Hourigan's Dance School.
Leonard's family owned racehorses and was in the furniture business, owning Sue Brothers in Fortitude Valley and later at Northgate, which, in its heyday, Leonard says employed 100 workers and supplied Amart Furniture.
His family also operated Northgate Sawmills and began what became the Brighton Shopping Centre on Beaconsfield Terrace, operating a weekend fruit and vegetable stall on the site.
The well-known local Boondall shopping centre, Sue's Korner, was operated by Leonard's uncle, the late Jimmy Sue-Tin. Leonard was also a tent boxer of some renown but gave up fighting when his father (Guy Sue-Tin) told him he must choose either boxing or his girl. Lorna did not like boxing and was not, she says, going to have a husband with "cauliflower ears''.
He chose love and when Lorna was 18 and Leonard was 20, they wed. Eleven months later they welcomed their first child Dennis, now 70. They also have a daughter Corinne, 68, and son Guy, 64. They now have six grandchildren, eight great grandchildren and seven great, great grandkids. All the family will attend the couple's renewal of vows ceremony.
SHOULD I KEEP MY CLOTHES ON?
With startling blue eyes, carefully applied red lipstick and her hair swept back in blue hair net, Lorna giggles at Leonard who is clearly enjoying the attention of Qweekend's photoshoot.
"Should I keep my clothes on?'' he deadpans.
A sense of humour has been a feature of the couple's long union. They say they have not let any disagreements carry on and neither has ever drunk alcohol or smoked, with Lorna even signing a pledge not to do so when they married.
Lorna is of the strong opinion that "age is just a number''.
"I'm still getting around,'' she says.
"Leonard has always been full of fun and we've had lots of laughs.
"And he's been a good provider. He always let me decorate the house as I pleased … even when I wanted rainbow coloured kitchen cupboards (before the pink ones). He went along with everything.
"I've always liked a lot of colour and also leopard skin which is the fashionable thing now. I've got leopard skin suitcases, wallpaper, cushions.
"Over 71 years, sometimes you have disagreements but you just get over it. You say what you say and that's it. You don't let it go on.
"My mother (Annie Kunde) used to say, 'I love that Lenny'. As soon as she met him, she liked him. She could see he was a kind person.''
Lorna and Leonard have also travelled widely, honeymooning in Sydney and later visiting Hong Kong, New Zealand, Japan, Taiwan, Singapore and America.
All their siblings have sadly passed away - Lorna was the youngest of four; Leonard the se
cond youngest of five.
FAMILY IS EVERYTHING
Kym de Thierry, 51, is Lorna and Leonard's eldest grandchild and has been instrumental in organising Lorna and Leonard's renewal of vows ceremony on November 10.
She says her grandparents are known for their generosity, providing the downstairs of their home as a place to stay rent free for all their children at various times to help set them up and make their way.
Every year, they also give out Christmas hampers to family and friends and, previously, to staff members of their businesses.
"They have always been kind,'' de Thierry says. "Every year they'd give out Christmas hampers to everyone they worked with, anyone they knew, not just family. The hampers were filled with big hams, watermelons, mangoes.
"We've always had big family gatherings. Nanny has always been a good cook and she learnt all the Chinese cooking. We've all learnt to come together as a family around food.''
And, as always, Lorna and Leonard are smartly dressed - Leonard with a button-up shirt; Lorna with her hair permed and styled and lipstick on.
Leonard looks at his wife and simply says: "Lorna was beautiful … and she still is. I couldn't take my eyes off her.''
In the words sung by George Strait: In all the world, you'll never find, a love as true as mine. ■