Mary Lazenby wasn’t pleased with Henry Lloynd. He had stood her up for a date to the “picture show” and she was in a sour mood.
But a chance meeting in an alley in North Battleford, Sask. changed all that. Their paths crossed when Mary was on her way home from work and Henry was on his way from picking up the laundry that Mary’s mom had done for him as a favour.
A sheepish Henry felt bad that he had preferred a football game with the boys over a date with the dark-haired beauty. Mary was overcome by Henry’s charming apology.
It was in that moment that they realized they were meant to be together. They just didn’t know it would be for seven decades – and counting.
The Lloynds, who now live in Abbotsford, celebrate their 70th anniversary today (July 10).
Mary, 90, and Henry, 92, are astounded at the years that trail behind them, but not at the longevity of their union.
They fight rarely, and talk often. Sometimes they don’t see eye to eye, Henry says, but they work out their issues and enjoy spending time together.
“I think we’re both easygoing people. You take what comes,” Mary says.
They first met in 1940, when Mary was 18 and Henry was 20. Henry, born and raised in England, was serving in the Royal Air Force (RAF) and was stationed in North Battleford.
Mary was living with her mom and younger brother in Rockhaven, about 40 kilometres from North Battleford, and was working as a waitress in a coffee shop.
One night, Mary and a co-worker finished their shift and decided to head to Uncle Tom’s Cabin, a coffee shop/restaurant with an attached dance hall.
They were doing some window shopping when they were approached by two handsome young men in uniform who wanted directions to Uncle Tom’s Cabin.
“That’s where we’re going!” Mary exclaimed, and the four spent the night dancing and talking.
The romance took awhile to develop. At first, Henry would visit Mary’s work to have chips and eggs for breakfast.
Not long after their first meeting, Mary came down with the highly contagious typhoid fever and ended up in a small home that had been converted into an isolation hospital. Henry and his “lads” from the RAF would sit outside her window to keep her company, but in Mary’s fevered hallucinatory state, she was unaware they were there.
Henry continued to visit Mary once she returned home, and helped nurse her through recovery, even helping her learn to walk again.
Over time, friendship turned to romance, but it took Henry’s football faux pas for the relationship to progress to a more serious stage. A simple “I love you” was what Henry said when he proposed to Mary at Easter time.
Their wedding on July 10, 1942 was held in St. Paul’s Anglican Church in North Battleford. Henry sported his RAF uniform, and Mary wore a simple blue dress with white lace trim and beige shoes. A small reception followed at the home of Mary’s mother.
Henry’s stint in the RAF continued, including two and a half years in India, during which time he did not see his wife or first-born child.
After that, the couple settled in the Crowsnest Pass area (on the B.C./Alberta border), where Henry worked in the coal mines, and then in North Battleford, where he began a long career with municipal public works departments.
The couple raised four children – three girls and a boy – and in 1964 moved to Abbotsford, where Mary’s mom had settled with her new husband. Henry was employed with the city’s public works department as a foreman and then spent the last four years – until his retirement in 1985 – working in Mission.
The Lloynds became avid travellers, touring much of Canada and the western U.S. in their motorhome, and taking several cruises to places such as Alaska and Hawaii.
They enjoy visiting with family and now have 10 grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren whom they try to see as much as possible.
Their years together haven’t always been easy – there have been tough, lean times – but they have always pulled each other through.
Henry sums it up succinctly: “It’s about hard work and working together.”