Happy times together

Sixty years is a long time to spend with the same person and Alison Fuller says each day of her marriage to Graham Fuller was a positive one.

The retired businessman was 93 when he died last month and much of his life was recorded in an autobiography he published two years ago. It recounted his education at Nelson College, his three-year service with the New Zealand ‘Territorial during World War II and his career in insurance.

Over the years Graham was a Blenheim Jaycees member, a Marlborough Tennis Association committee member when its Kinross St courts were swapped for new ones at Pollard Park; he was secretary of the Marlborough Trotting and Racing Club, founded the Lions Club of Blenheim, was a house manager of the Blenheim Operatic Society and an active member of Nativity Church.

But who was the man?

"He was a realist," writes Alison in a tribute to Graham in a Lions Club of Blenheim newsletter.

"When he went to Nelson College in 1934, he knew he would only have three years there. The only subjects he was interested in were English and maths. He could add the items at the supermarket before the girl brought up the total on the till and he was able to supply the correct spelling of any word when when I was stumbling with my crossword."

They met at a Blenheim Operatic Society production. Graham was the house manager and she a dancer. First impressions?

She admits she doesn't remember and shortly after the show she moved to Wellington to work. But not for long.

Graham invited her to a national Jaycees convention in Blenheim and they married 18 months later.

Jaycees, the junior chamber of commerce, was a male-only organisation that raised money to build or support community amenities. Its Blenheim members formed an associate group for their wives, the Jayceettes.

It was a comradeship group, Alison remembers, but supported Jaycees' projects, too.

In 1963 Graham was asked to find members for the town's first Lions group. It wasn't hard. Graham and other men who had served in the armed forces during the war wanted to serve others, Alison says. "They were looking for something to do."

Graham always had plenty to do. "He was an organiser par excellence,"Alison writes.

He inherited his father's interest in race horses and had his own, in partnership with friends," A highlight was standing in the birdcage at Flemington, home of the Melbourne Cup in Australia, to see his horse run.

The couple had three children, Martin, Nicki and Scott, and their family life was a happy one.

The first Fuller family arrived in Picton in 1855 and one of Graham's great grandmothers was married to surveyor Joseph Taylor who the Taylor River is named after in Blenheim. In 2009, a footbridge crossing was named after Graham for his commitment to beautifying the riverside reserve.

He and Alison built their home beside it 24 years ago and he used to say he would only leave if he was "carted out", Alison says. "And sadly he was, by St John ambulance."

She ends the tribute to her husband by identifying him as a friendly, caring man who was always ready to talk to anyone and took great satisfaction from helping others.

The Marlborough Express