Seventy years of marriage and still going strong

Darrell and Trish Madex with Ararat Rural City Councillor Colin McKenzie (back), join Keith and Norma Madex to celebrate their 70th wedding anniversary. Picture: PETER PICKERING

Darrell and Trish Madex with Ararat Rural City Councillor Colin McKenzie (back), join Keith and Norma Madex to celebrate their 70th wedding anniversary. Picture: PETER PICKERING

IN 1944 Ararat's Keith Madex, affectionately referred to as 'Cheesy' was known to smoke cigars, drink beer and stay up until 2am in the morning.

Seventy years later and at 92 years of age not much has changed. Cheesy still does all of that with his loyal, beloved 89-year-old wife Norma, by his side.

On Tuesday, the couple celebrated their seventieth wedding anniversary, a feat few couples can lay claim too having achieved.

Still fiercely independent, keen to avoid a fuss and 'old school' at heart, the couple have each lived lives well worth acknowledging.

Born in Colac in 1925, Norma was one of 10 children. Her nine siblings included five brothers and four sisters.

Diagnosed with Rheumatic Fever as a child, the odds were against her living a long and prosperous life. However, she has done just that.

At age 16 she was employed as a Station Manager on the railways and later rode her push bike to work at a local store.

"She is a great cook and has always been a loving mother, grandmother and great grandmother," grandson, Darrell Madex said.

Keith, born in Ararat was also part of a large family, one of 15 children - 12 boys and three girls. His sisters are still alive, but he is the only surviving boy.

"He is a real lovable rogue and always noticed for that grin on his face," Darrell said.

"He'll get up and have a cup of coffee in the morning, open his first beer about midday and you'll find him still up and about come 2am.

"I really don't know how he does it!"

Keith left home at age 10 and worked as a farm hand before enlisting as part of the infantry in World War Two.

Returning from the War he turned his attention to the railways before starting his own business, a trucking company that managed wood carting.

He finished his career with employment at Aradale and J Ward Lunatic Asylums.

It was a chance encounter that brought the couple together, with Keith as he did so regularly in the early days, went searching for a cow wandering the streets of Ararat, to milk.

On one occasion in 1941 he came across Norma and the rest as they say is history.

They couple married on August 5, 1944 at Holy Trinity, Ararat (Church of England) while Keith was on leave from his involvement in World War Two.

The couple were the parents to two male children - Jim and Joe (both deceased) and Jenny.

They have two grandchildren and seven great grandchildren.

The couple have lived at the same address in Laidlaw Street, Ararat for more than 60 years.

One of the couple's fondest memories occurred just a few years ago, when generations of residents from Laidlaw Street returned to Ararat for a street reunion.

Darrell said seeing all the neighbours, particularly adults they'd watched as children play football in the street return with families of their own, filled them with immense happiness.

Reflecting on his life Keith said it has always been important for him to 'enjoy life doing what I want to do' and that 'clean living is overrated'.

Norma puts her longevity and continued marriage down to always 'worrying about what Cheesy is up to'.

The couple were joined by friends, families and neighbours to celebrate the milestone that has been 70 years in the making at the Ararat RSL on Tuesday night.

The event was attended by Ararat Rural City councillor Colin McKenzie who made a special presentation to mark their achievement.

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