Teenagers’ love story continues after 60 years

Ours is a match made in heaven, says Pam Hadden (80) of her 60-year marriage to Arthur (79).

The Haddens toasted their anniversary on February 8 with a bottle of bubbly shared between them at their home of 11 years in Rand Aid’s Inyoni Creek retirement village.

Some quirk was added to the occasion when they pulled a leftover Christmas cracker, donned the colourful hats inside and sat back to enjoy their favourite music and a bit of quality time.

Their celebration continued on February 20 when their daughter Dallas took them to lunch at Restaurante Parreirinha in Johannesburg, where they enjoyed their favourite prawn dish and a bottle of icy Moët champagne.

Arthur says it was love at first sight when, at 15, he met Pam. “We have always respected each other and given ourselves freedom to pursue our interests. The key to a happy marriage is love, laughter, respect and tolerance,” says Pam. And, Arthur adds, he always does what he is told.

The couple spent most of their married life in Kensington and Bedfordview. Arthur worked in sales in the construction industry and eventually started his own business while Pam was the personal assistant to the minister of the Kensington Methodist Church.

She then made a drastic career change, accepting a job as a bookmaker’s clerk.

“For those who don’t know, a bookmaker is a horse racing bookie. When I broke the news to the minister, he said he would pray for me because I would be working in a den of iniquity!” she laughs.

The pair have always been active, with Pam volunteering as a police reservist at Bedfordview Police Station and both being very sporty.

Arthur played rugby for the Quaggas which was a Transvaal invitation side.  He was captain of the Jeppe Old Boys first team rugby for six years; coached the U20s at Jeppe Quondam; and ran the Two Oceans Marathon seven times. He also played in the same social hockey side for 40 years. Arthur was a seven-handicap golfer and was a member of Kensington Golf Club.

He still runs the Jeppe Old Boys’ monthly breakfast get-together at the school and has twice bungee jumped – the most recent occasion being on his 70th birthday at Bloukrans, which is the highest bungee jump in the world at 216 metres.

Arthur was president of the Bedfordview Toastmasters and president of the Inyoni Probus Club for three consecutive years.

Pam was a provincial hockey player. She represented Wits and was selected to go for trials to represent South Africa.  She took up speed walking and in 1994 and won a bronze medal at the SA Masters Athletics event. More recently, Pam won the seniors category in the 8km Gandhi walk in Lenasia.

Apart from daughter Dallas, the Haddens have a son – Houston, and three grandchildren – Aaron, Shayna and Jordan.

Dallas and Houston aren’t named after American cities or the popular television programme. Pam explains: “When playing for his social hockey/rugby team, Arthur had a similar aggressive style of play to Canadian ice hockey player Brayden Houston and was thus nicknamed ‘Houston’. When I was pregnant, friends referred to our unborn child as baby Houston and the name stuck. Dallas was the heroine in a book I was reading and we really liked the name.”

Their current life chapter remains filled to the brim, with both loving the busy community of Inyoni Creek. “Moving here was the best decision we ever made. We found paradise among friends and people who care,” says Pam.

Arthur and Pam Hadden, who recently celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary, dressed in pink for the Valentine’s Day celebration at Inyoni Creek.

The Haddens toast their 60th anniversary at Restaurante Parreirinha .