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Barrie couple's love story began when she swallowed a fly

Georgienne and Havelock Rhynold met in 1952 and had first date at Orillia Fair; they soon found humour was their mutual bond
Left: Georgienne and Havelock Rhynold on their wedding day. Right: The couple, married 68 years, celebrate Valentine's Day.

Laughter is the best medicine — and it’s been a not-so-secret reason for the longevity of one Barrie couple’s love.

Georgienne and Havelock Rhynold have been married 68 years, having met on a blind date set up by friends.

The couple met in 1952 and spent their first date at the Orillia Fair. It was while on a ride — a Wacky Worm-style ride on tracks — that Havelock admits his first impression of his future wife was officially formed.

“We were going around there and we were laughing and carrying on … and she swallowed a fly! She started spitting it out and then she just started laughing,” the 89-year-old retired steam fitter tells BarrieToday.

The Nova Scotia native knew pretty much then and there that this was the woman for him. Her sense of humour and ability to laugh at herself and situations was one of the things he’s always been most attracted to.

Georgienne, who was born and raised in Winnipeg, says she just found him handsome.

Havelock and Georgienne Rheynolds share a kiss as they celebrate Valentine's Day. | Image supplied

“Well, I looked at him and (thought), he’s pretty good looking, well built, seems to be quite jolly. I think perhaps I could get to like him,” says the 91-year-old. 

As she got to know him, Georgienne says it was Havelock’s “happy, friendly attitude” that continued to draw her to him.

The couple dated for three years, tying the knot on Sept. 24, 1955. 

Georgienne chuckles when asked what prompted her to say 'yes' to his proposal.

“I had been going with another friend before I met my husband. He was shipped over to Korea. After we’d been going together for a couple of years, (Havelock) asked me if I was going to marry (him) or was I going to wait for Bob to come back from Korea?!”

Needless to say, she did say yes. Over the years the couple welcomed four children, followed by six grandchildren, 10 great-grandchildren and two great-great grandchildren.

Things haven’t always been easy for the pair, who lost one of their sons in 1977, but they have always managed to find joy, and laughter has always been a big part of their lives.

“Laughter is good medicine for you and for your life. If you go through life laughing you’re not going to have too much trouble,” he says. “You have to appreciate each other, be kind to each other and get along.”

They have also always been able to talk to one another and figure out their problems together, Georgienne adds.

“We respected each other. I think that’s very important,” she says.

Looking back on their years together, Georgienne says it’s been her husband’s respect and responsibility for others that she admires most.

“And he can be very lovable,” she says.

For Havelock, it’s Georgienne’s commitment to her family that he’s admired.

“She has always done an amazing job of taking care of (our) family. She’s always been family-oriented. I was away from home a lot and she was all by herself. She raised a good family, because they all made good for themselves,” he says.

Marriage is like life, the couple says. 

“You’re going to have your ups and downs. You’ve got to learn to accept them and think about them, and then forget about them," Havelock says. "If you let it linger on it grows and grows, and that’s going to cause a lot of (problems) in a marriage."