Special friends and family from far and wide were present at a private function held in the Merimbula RSL Club on Saturday, 30 September, to celebrate the 65th wedding anniversary of long-time Bimbimbie Park residents Monica and Jeff Paffen.
The couple first met in 1948 on Jeff’s return to Limburg, Holland after training at the Dutch Naval base in Portsmouth, England, and then his subsequent service in Indonesia as part of the Peace Keeping Force.
After a four-year courtship the couple married in St Joseph’s Church, Heerlen, on September 30, 1952.
They immigrated to Australia, arriving at the Port of Melbourne on board the SS Waterman on September 1954. The following year they visited Merimbula for the first time, staying at Hyde’s Camp at Short Point and thereafter made annual visits to Merimbula from their home in Traralgon, Gippsland.
Mr and Mrs Paffen remember that blocks of land in the main street of Merimbula were selling for £50 in 1955, and the journey by car on the unsealed, pot holed, road from Cann River to Eden alone at the time took six long hours.
In 1989, after retirement, Bimbimbie and much loved Merimbula became Monica and Jeff's home.
Their son, Melbourne based art historian Dr Paul Paffen, delivered a speech during the anniversary luncheon.
He spoke about his father’s activities as a member of the Dutch Resistance during the fraught years of German occupation of the Netherlands and his mother’s post-war employment as a live-in house companion to the wife of a wealthy dermatologist doctor in Verviers in Belgium.
Those who gathered also listened to particulars about his parents' courtship which included mention of Jeff's two hour early morning bike rides from Holland nearly every weekend across to visit his sweetheart in Belgium, and his return journey late at night. Poignant details about the actual wedding day and subsequent honeymoon in Lourdes in France were also shared.
Daughter Stella (Mrs McWiggan), from Sydney, saw to the arrangements for the happy occasion. A spectacular floral arrangement arrived for the soul mates from their nieces and nephews in Western Australia, and another from loved family in Holland who could not be present at the memorable feast.
Congratulations to Monica and Jeff from the Merimbula News.