Annette and John Lazberger were born on different sides of the world, but when fate brought them together at a tennis tournament on Christmas eve in 1959, it was very much a love match for the rest of their lives.
“We had actually met briefly many years before at another exhibition match when we were introduced by mutual friends, and then again when we serendipitously bumped into each other on a Melbourne street several years later, but it was only when we met for a third time back in Perth that we chatted and I asked her out,” says 94 year-old John, who was born in Croatia and immigrated to Australia with his family when he was just 10 years old.
“I asked Annette to a New Year’s Eve ball at the Civic Centre at Cottesloe. At the time, she was working as a flight attendant and it turned out that she was late flying in from Melbourne that evening, so I had a bit of time alone to get to know her parents before we went on our first date,” John laughs. “After that, I would often joke that things could get serious and, after over 60 years together, I guess I was right.”
After a short courtship, the couple – who now live at Regis Woodlands – married on 19 December 1960 at Holy Rosary Catholic Church in Nedlands, before returning to Melbourne where they had both been based due to their careers.
“We spent four years in Melbourne before returning to Perth in 1964 and moving to Floreat Park where we lived for many years with our four children Mark, Louise, Jennifer and Joanne,” explains 86-year-old Annette, who was born in East Perth and attended Loreto Convent Claremont, before going on to business college and then securing her then-dream job as a flight attendant.
“We are extremely proud of our family and now have six grandchildren and one great granddaughter who is just seven months old, and who we totally adore.”
And so after more than six decades of marriage, what do Annette and John believe makes for a happy and successful union?
“You really need belief and faith, just as much as you need respect, honesty and love,” says John, who served as a City of Perth Councillor for several years and was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) in 2021 for service to the community for his dedication to numerous charitable organisations, including St Vincent de Paul and St John of God Hospital in Subiaco, where he was chairman of the board.
“And my advice for younger women is to be very selective in choosing their life partner,” adds Annette, who has also dedicated herself to voluntary work during her lifetime, including at King Edward Memorial Hospital, Cottage Hospice and also St Vincent de Paul.
Krupa Shah, General Manager of Regis Woodlands, says the entire team at Regis was looking forward to celebrating Valentine’s Day with Annette and John, in addition to the other couples who call Regis Woodlands home.
“Annette and John truly cherish each other after more than 60 years of marriage and it is just lovely to see,” she says.
“We will be making Valentine’s Day extra special this year, not just for Annette and John, but for all of our couples, and indeed all of our residents, many of whom will be keen to reminisce about the true love they have found in their own lifetimes.”
Regis offers a diverse range of care options including residential aged care, home care, retirement living, day therapy and day respite. Regis is one of the largest providers of aged care in Australia and cares for more than 7,000 residents each year.