Lost Love Found

After 66 years, Don Ormiston has finally learned what happened to his lost love. But it was not the kind of discovery the former merchant navy officer was hoping for.
15 Feb 2015 09:56
Lost Love Found
Don Ormiston with two of his daughters, Wendy Sue (left), who was named after Wendy and Susan Read, Mr Ormiston and Karalee Warren. This photo was taken in September 2014.

After 66 years, Don Ormiston has finally learned what happened to his lost love. But it was not the kind of discovery the former merchant navy officer was hoping for.

Wendy, the woman he fell in love with, after a brief introduction at the Suva Sea Baths in 1949 died in 1988.

After receiving the sad news last week, he said: “Wendy’s passing in 1988 really hurt me as she was so young. I only knew Wendy for a few weeks at the most in 1949, but I can only say that I did love her and she was one of the nicest girls I knew.

“I am still finding it hard to talk about her knowing she has passed away and I have to wipe the tears away.

“Wendy’s family were very nice to me and I knew them as Mr and  Mrs Read, and of course Susan Read – Wendy’s little sister who helped me meet Wendy.

“I met her at the pool in Suva, Fiji. And with Susan’s help I met Wendy and was invited to their residence in Suva for supper.

“Wendy and I would go for walks around Suva and I enjoyed it a lot, although it must have been the rainy season as every afternoon it would rain. But it wasn’t too bad as Wendy had a rain cap for me and would put it on me.

“When I last saw Wendy I was up at their house and her mother was there also and I was talking about staying in Suva by jumping ship.

“However, I found I couldn’t do this, as the ship, the Waitomo blew her horn I had to run down to the pier to board her.

“As a matter of fact I did hold up the ship from leaving Suva and was told I couldn’t go back on her when we got to Vancouver BC.”

Mr Ormiston went on to marry Helen and they had five children and several grandchildren and great-grand children. He named one of his daughters, Wendy Sue – after Wendy and Susan Read. He lost his wife a year ago.

The young girl who was instrumental in setting up that brief meeting between Mr Ormiston and Wendy in 1949, Susan Allan nee Read sent this email:

“It was an amazing piece you had in the Fiji Sun ‘Looking for Lost Love, 66 years on’.

“Sadly, Wendy died, aged 54, in 1988.  She has three beautiful daughters who live in Canberra, Australia,  all with children of their own, who in turn have children so Wendy has nine grandchildren and seven great grandchildren.”

One of the grandchildren, Alison Gow, is currently living in Suva.  She is employed by DFAT (the Australia Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade) and is working on an aid programme.  A grandson, Nick Johnston, currently lives in Winnipeg, Canada.

“I recognised Don immediately when I saw the photo which was taken at the Suva Sea Baths.  I was instrumental in Don meeting my sister Wendy.  I suppose I was a somewhat precocious nine-year-old who always talked to strangers at the baths.

“After all, that was where we spent practically all our time in those days.  I remember chatting to Donald (as he called himself then), introducing him to my big sister Wendy and suggesting he should come home for a good family meal.

“Following your newspaper story one of Wendy’s daughters got out an old photograph album and found several more pictures with Don taken at the baths and at our home on Dennison Road.”

In the initial story, Mr Ormiston recalled receiving a letter from Wendy three months after he had returned to Canada saying that she was marrying a Mr Williams.

“Yes, Wendy did marry “a Mr Williams” (Ray) whom she met when he was working at Radio Station ZJV,” Susan said.

“They married in the Anglican Cathedral in Suva.  They married in 1952, the first or second wedding in the then new cathedral, with a reception at the Grand Pacific Hotel.

“I remember Ray and his best man had to go there in the morning to cut the grass before the service.”

Later in 1954, Mr Williams was transferred to Goulburn, Australia.

“Their three daughters Jacqueline, Linda and Robyn were born in Goulburn and currently live with their families in Canberra”, Susan said.

“Ray now lives in Canberra and would probably be about the same age as Don.”

Susan described her older sister as quiet and reserved.

“But she had a will of iron.  She was a great swimmer.  The Baths, which is now Suva’s Olympic Pool, was pretty much the hub of activity in those days, and you could always pick out the strangers in town when they came for a swim.  Don was one of these.

While the story doesn’t have a fairytale ending, Susan said it was wonderful that these families have come together “through the pages of your newspaper and with very special memories of Fiji”.

Both Susan and Mr Ormiston have confirmed that they have exchanged emails and photos and plan to meet soon.



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