It took 3 proposals and now they've had 50 golden years
IT was a case of love at first sight in 1966 for young Marilyn Russell.
Sergio Laner walked into the Coralita restaurant where she worked making coffee, on Gladstone's very first cappuccino machine.
But she was not going to let Sergio, a newly arrived Italian construction worker, sweep her off her feet too easily.
Sergio, obviously impressed, asked for her name.
She replied, "Marilyn," to which he immediately asked, "marry me?"
Marilyn turned him down, but Sergio persisted and they started dating. Not long afterwards he proposed again, and was rebuffed a second time.
So when the third proposal came, uniquely this time from Marilyn, Sergio quickly replied, "Yes!"
It was a rarity for a local lass to marry a European, and unheard of (outside a Leap Year) for a woman to ask a man to marry her.
But, once Marilyn's family had finished interrogating Sergio, then given him their blessing, the happy couple were married in the Anglican Church.
They moved into a house next door to Marilyn's parent's home in Off Lane.
Sergio completed construction work on the QAL site and was hired by the Harbour Board where he worked for more than thirty years.
They had two sons, Paul and David, and in 1970 spent a year in Italy living with Sergio's family.
During this time, Marilyn learned to speak Italian and Sergio's mother taught her how to cook Italian style, to his delight.
Marilyn grew up in the Boyne Valley and very much enjoyed her country childhood there.
This Saturday the couple will celebrate their Golden Wedding Anniversary in the Nagoorin Progress Hall, which had been built by Marilyn's father, Keith 'Rusty' Russell.
Now the couple plan to celebrate their anniversary in the same hall to give their children and five grandchildren a chance to meet some of their lifelong friends from the area.
And their advice for a long and happy marriage?
Marilyn thinks it really is a case of opposites attract.
"That's good, because I think I would have grown bored with him," she said.
Sergio believes the real secret is being a good listener.