LOVE LETTER: Marj and Lawrie Johansen's 50 years of marriage started with a letter.
LOVE LETTER: Marj and Lawrie Johansen's 50 years of marriage started with a letter. Ebony Graveur

Letter-writing lovers move 360km to be together

"YOU feel it in your heart - that's how you know you're in love."

Despite only seeing each other three or four times a year, Marj and Lawrie Johnansen knew they had something special.

The pair met as pen pals in 1956 and are now celebrating half a century as a married couple.

When Lawrie worked on the telephone exchange in Roma, he felt lonely.

He reached out to his colleague, asking her if she knew any girls he could write letters to.

Lawrie's colleague asked him what kind of person he hoped to meet and thought of her friend, Marj, who worked in a pharmacy in Goondiwindi.

"He described the kind of girl he wanted to meet and she put him onto me straight away," Marj said.

"And the rest is history - she played cupid."

The pair began their pen-friendship with a phone call and swapped photos before embarking on a letter exchange that would blossom across three years.

"We met on the phone on the Sunday night and he came over on the following Friday," Marj said.

"We kept in touch, writing to each other, and I would see him about every three months."

Marj said Lawrie was easy to get along with and said she felt "smitten" almost instantly - they just clicked.

 

MAKING A DIFFERENCE: Marj Johansen was the first female president of the Gatton Lions Club.
Marj Johansen was the first female president of the Gatton Lions Club. Photo Contributed

Lawrie felt the same.

"It was just one of those relationships that just grew, I dare say," Lawrie said.

"About three or four times a year, I would make a trip from the west down to the south."

During their visits, the pair would go to dances and soak up as much time as they could together.

Eventually they had enough of the long distance and tied the knot in 1959, living together in Roma before moving from town to town.

First joining the Lions Club in Tara in 1979, the pair signed up to the Lions Club of Gatton in when they bought a house in Gatton.

The club has proven to be a major part of the pair's life.

"We serve the community through the Lions... There's a satisfaction we get out of helping others," Lawrie said.

"You put a smile on someone's face and that's what it's all about."