Loretta and William Herman, both 82, celebrate their 60th wedding anniversary this month.
The couple from Bridgetown met at the Athlone train station when they were both 15 and got to know each other through a friend. They married at 21 in the St George’s Church in Silvertown. They stayed in Factreton and moved to Bonteheuwel a year later where they had five children – three daughters and two sons. The couple now have 13 grandchildren and 16 great grandchildren.
Ms Herman worked as cleaner and a machinist and Mr Herman as chauffeur. Ms Herman retired at 40 and Mr Herman at 60.
After his retirement, the couple took a trip to Israel where they visited Jerusalem, on a journey to find out more about Christianity which was always Mr Herman’s dream.
Ms Herman says she attributes her successful marriage to their strong faith in God.
She says her children were raised very strictly, especially her two sons.
“We had many rules and if they didn’t do their chores, they got punished. One day, my son didn’t bring the bin in, and he had to stand outside until he brought the bin in. The girls had turns to wash up and clean up. It was important to be strict so that we could be an example for others. I wanted us to be the light in the dark world.
“Our children were reared in the church and went to Sunday school. I raised them with prayer. The schoolchildren came here in the mornings to pray, and I gave them sweets and biscuits. They still remember me, even though now they are adults. I had a vine and a quince tree, so in the mornings they would cut the grapes, wash them, and pray, and then they will each have a bunch of grapes.”
The family faced tragedy three months ago when the couple’s one son died at the age of 50 after having suffered three strokes. Mr Herman, also suffered three strokes – one four years ago, the second shortly after, and the third a month ago.
“It was a challenging time in our marriage,” Ms Herman says. “William had a fever and couldn’t walk, and I washed him in bed every day. I prayed for his recovery every day, and now he is well and doesn’t even need a stick to walk.”
Mr Herman says the family loves going to the Company’s Garden on Sundays and going by train to the beach.
Mr Herman’s favourite dish, cooked by his wife, is chops, liver, mash and tomato smoortjie. Ms Herman says she loves her husband’s kind ways and helpful personality. Over their 60 years of marriage he always made her feel special, especially on her birthday, she says.
Mr Herman says young people should be God-fearing when they get married and have faith.
“Forgive quickly, don’t hurt one another, love one another. Pray all the time during your marriage and have patience and save your money and take a trip to Israel.”
He says the Covid-19 pandemic has been a very depressing time and he and his wife could not even attend church, but their children and their families visit often.