Judith and Hans Rudolf Kappelhof, of Parow, who are celebrating their 60th wedding anniversary this year, say good communication is the secret to their happy match.
Hans, 92, who is also affectionately known as “Kappi”, first met Judith, then 17, at a family gathering in South West Africa (now Namibia) in 1950. Hans, then 24, was a friend of the family who was invited to spend time with them in Namibia.
“I lived in Cape Town, and later enrolled to study architecture at UCT at the time,” says Hans.
Judith, 85, is originally from Germany. She had fallen ill with polio as a child and went to Groote Schuur Hospital in 1953 to have surgery on her legs. This was when Hans and Judith met again.
Judith was now a young woman, and it was after this second meeting that a romance started to bloom between the two.
“My sister was a nurse at Groote Schuur at the time,” says Hans, “but then she got engaged and went to stay with her fiancé in Uitenhage. She gave me strict instructions to look after Judith.
“I used to visit her in hospital, and we got to know each other more. During my second-year at UCT, we decided that we would marry one day. She lived in Sea Point, and I lived in Rondebosch at the time, and I would take a train to visit her on the weekends.” The couple finally tied the knot on Saturday March 8 1958 at the Lutheran Church in the CBD.
“We worked for a year to save up for our wedding,” says Hans.
Judith sewed her own wedding dress.
“Due to her having polio she spent many days indoors doing arts and crafts and sewing,” says Hans.
After their marriage, Judith worked at the Cripple Association in Adderley Street.
“We then decided to move to Stellenbosch and raise a family,” says Hans.
The couple had two children: Antje, 59, and Heide, who died at the age of 15 from rheumatoid arthritis.
“We just had to deal with the grief as it came up as we could not do anything about it,” says Hans.
The couple lived in Stellenbosch for almost four decades before moving to the old-age home run by the St Johannis Organisation along Frans Conradie Drive.
“We moved in here close to 20 years ago, and initially, I served on the management committee board,” says Hans.
Judith says she and Hans were made for each other and they had always found a way to talk about any problems.
“We never thought about divorce; we never argued and always spoke things through. We are also extremely compatible,” she says. Hans agrees and says they never had to “work” at their marriage.
“We just clicked and never had a fight. We would never slam doors either.”
The couple have one grandchild, Rudolf du Toit, 36, and two great-grandchildren.