By Bridget Spinks
Joe and Rose Zekulich, who are 104 and 97 and parishioners of St Brigid’s Midland, were due to celebrate 80 years of marriage on 25 May, making them Australia’s longest living married couple.
Former St Brigid’s parish priest, Fr Joseph Angelo, who moves to St Mary’s Leederville this week to take up his new appointment as parish priest, visited them on 20 May to deliver Perth Archbishop Barry Hickey’s Episcopal blessing for their anniversary.
Tired of all the media attention, Rose declined a formal interview with The Record but when asked the secret to a happy, lifelong marriage, she replied with a laugh saying there was no secret.
“Some days are better than others. When the days aren’t so good, you hope tomorrow’s better.
“You love one another … you think of your partner before yourself,” Rose said. “Things were hard when we were young but I think it’s harder for the younger ones,” she said, referring to the cost of buying and setting up a house and the financial pressures for young newlyweds.
Joe migrated to Australia in 1924 from Croatia at the age of 16, having never left his village prior to that.
Joe first met Rose Beus when she was 11 on her father’s vineyard but his first priority was work – any work – to repay the debt he had borrowed for passage to Australia and to eat.
Ante Beus – Rose’s father – offered him work for 1 pound a week but a fellow passenger said, there was work in Kalgoorlie for 1 pound a day.
The Beus family kept in touch with him and invited him back for various jobs around their vineyard. They were married in 1931 in St Brigid’s Midland and have lived in the Swan Valley their whole married lives, moving into Morrison Lodge retirement village in 2004.
Joe and Rose have four children, 13 grandchildren and 22 great grandchildren.