National Magazine of the Lutheran Church of Australia

A century, not out

August 2015

by Linda Macqueen

In 1938, 16-year-old Melva von Bertouch was at Adelaide Railway Station, farewelling a boy she liked. Young seminarian Bill Stolz was there too—not to farewell the boy, but to talk to Melva, a friend of his sister.

‘He talked and talked and talked … so much that I never got to say goodbye to that boy I liked!’ Melva laughs. They had chatted a few times before, outside Immanuel College, where Melva was a final-year student. Not long afterwards, 23-year-old Bill, as a brand-new pastor, had to head north to his first posting—Proston, in a home mission field in Queensland.

A few months later Bill’s thoughts returned to the lovely young Melva. He plucked up the courage to write to her, asking if they could correspond ‘with the idea that they might marry’. His boldness paid off. Bill and Melva have now been married for 70 years. ‘I don’t think he ever proposed’, Melva says. ‘I agreed that I’d write to him, and that he could come down to Adelaide in three years and we’d get engaged. But I didn’t want to get married until I was at least 21. And it would have to be in September; I wanted to get married in September.’

So they wrote, every month. And while their letters contained matters of the heart, they also described the ups and downs of daily life. ‘In the letters