It’s 60 years to the day since John and Marlene met, square dancing at the Palais.
It was the early 50s and the Palais was the place to see and be seen, and the couple’s meeting sparked a four year courtship that saw them marry on May 10 1958.
“There were a lot of people around when we first met and I saw Marlene and thought, good enough!” John Dannatt said.
“I knew of her because she used to come out to the Mt Gipps on the weekends and give us a hand behind the bar and all that,” he said.
The couple’s courtship saw them return to the Palais plenty of times for dancing, skating and other social outings.
John proposed to Marlene at the Mt Gipps Hotel, owned by his family at the time, and after Marlene took the Dannatt name the couple bought the Willyama Hotel where three of their four children were born.
Marlene was in charge of raising the children, three boys and a girl, while John worked, first at the hotel and then after they sold it in the mines.
“We had a good circle of friends and we still do, my son thinks we’re social butterflies,” Marlene said.
“We’ve lived well; we’ve had four children, nine grandchildren and nine great grandchildren with another on the way.”
It was their children that started a life-long connection with the South Football Club.
The couple are life members of the club, and Top Roos, having supported their sons, then their grandchildren, and even their great grandchildren on the field and off.
“I was a top timekeeper for South in my time,” John said.
“It’s been a big part of our lives, we’ve had quite a bit to do with the Club.”
When asked if there was any secret behind their long partnership, Marlene said they weren’t anything special.
She thinks a lot of people must get sick of marriage or aren’t satisfied, but she and John never got sick of each other.
“We’ve had rough times like everybody, they always say don’t ever go to sleep not talking, well, we’ve done that a couple of times,” she said.
“But we’re in love and that’s it, I had no intentions of looking anywhere else and neither did he, we’re okay with one another.
“We just connected, right from that beginning, I don’t know what it was, and we’ve lived a happily married life.”
The couple will celebrate their diamond wedding anniversary tonight with a special family dinner at their former hotel, the Old Willyama Hotel.