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Love endures for Australia Day sweethearts


Australia Day 1952 will always hold a special place in the hearts of Kath and Ron Konopka.

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It was the day they were married in St Mary’s Church, Port Adelaide, and 70 years on they are just as much in love as they were then.

Ron, 95, and Kath, 92, moved from their western suburbs home to the Philip Kennedy Centre, Largs Bay, in February last year. Despite the challenges of COVID, they were able to have a small platinum anniversary celebration on January 26, albeit without family present.

In a tribute prepared by the staff of the Philip Kennedy Centre, Ron said he “loved everything” about his wife while Kath said “I love that he is willing to listen to what I want”.

Ten years ago The Southern Cross published a story on the couple in the lead up to St Valentine’s Day as part of a campaign to use the day to refocus on the sacred bond of marriage. But that wasn’t the first time they appeared in the paper; their wedding photo and report also featured in this newspaper in 1952.

Kathleen Magnusson and Ronald Konopka, as they were referred to in their wedding report, got to know each other through sport and ‘met’ at a dance in St Mary’s Hall, but it took Ron four years to propose. A wedding reception for 120 guests was held in the hall where they met dancing.

Ron was a fitter and turner for SA Railways and worked a second job as a bar attendant to help put his children through Catholic schools. They have five children, 11 grandchildren and two great grandchildren. Eldest son John is principal of Mount Carmel College.

The couple was actively involved in the Pennington parish for many years. Ron would ferry priests and religious men and women across Adelaide in his younger days, when he also served on the parish council and helped maintain Our Lady of Mount Carmel and St Mary’s churches.

Kath spent many years writing the parish newsletter and was a volunteer for St Vincent de Paul Migrant Refugee Committee for 15 years.

Daughter Beth, who lives in Melbourne, said she hadn’t been able to see her parents for two years due to COVID restrictions but speaks to them on the phone regularly. Her siblings in Adelaide are only able to talk to their parents through the window.

“Thank goodness they have ground floor rooms,” she laughed.

The couple attend Mass at the Centre whenever they can and have regular visits and receive Communion from Fr Kevin.

When interviewed by The Southern Cross in 2012, Kath’s advice to anyone getting married was “you have to give and take”.

Kath and Ron Konopka on their wedding day.


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