Roy and Shirley McLean died within four days of each other in December, after 67 years of marriage.
Roy and Shirley McLean died within four days of each other in December, after 67 years of marriage.

Soulmates of 67 years die within four days of each other

ALL it took was one evening at a Farleigh dance hall and a young Narpi cane grower knew he had found the love of his life.

It was the sprightly step of a young Farleigh girl named Shirley that captured Roy McLean's heart.

"Dad went home and said 'I'm going to marry that girl'," his daughter Lyn Bradford said.

On May 10, 1952 Roy fulfilled his promise and married Shirley Gaylard at the Holy Trinity Anglican Church, Mackay.

After 67 years of marriage, the McLeans were together until the end.

On December 19 Shirley passed away. Four days later, on December 23, Roy followed her.

The "little love story" her parents shared is how their daughter wished to remember them.

Growing up on the family's Narpi cane farm, Ms Bradford said she had an idyllic childhood.

In a home packed with her three siblings, parents, aunt and uncle, and grandparents, Ms Bradford said their family was more of a "community".

The McLeans's love of dance and music transformed their home, Ms Bradford said, with many evenings spent dancing around its halls.

"Poor old Dad. My mum was playing the piano so he had to find someone to dance with," she said.

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Even after she and her siblings were tucked into bed, Ms Bradford said they could still hear the melodies of her mother on the piano, with her father accompanying on the harmonica.

Roy and Shirley McLean celebrated their 66th anniversary on May 10, 2018.
Roy and Shirley McLean celebrated their 66th anniversary on May 10, 2018.

"We never had a lot of material things," she said

"But they had all the love."

Eventually the McLeans retired to Seaforth, and then to Resthaven on Quarry Nursing Home in Mackay.

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Shirley and Roy McLean with family members, back from left, Rebecca Taylor, Grace Taylor, Lyn Bradford and Spencer Robertson (front).
Shirley and Roy McLean with family members, back from left, Rebecca Taylor, Grace Taylor, Lyn Bradford and Spencer Robertson (front).

Shirley was not alone in the final days, her children gathered around her when she died on December 19.

After only one day to process their loss, Ms Bradford said they returned to care for their dying father.

"I knew once one went, the other one wouldn't be far behind," Ms Bradford said

"I think mum gave him a nudge, saying 'Righto Roy, time to move on'."

They were both 89 years old.

With two parents to mourn, Ms Bradford said the funeral was extremely difficult.

But the final farewell was held at the McLean family's old Narpi farm.

Climbing a hill overlooking the old farm, now covered in sunflowers, Ms Bradford said five generations of the family were present when they scattered her parents' ashes.

After spreading the ashes, 20 sunflowers were laid, one for each member of the family who farewelled the couple.

Ms Bradford said the hill brought back memories of her father from her childhood.

"He was born there and now he will always be there," she said.


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