Profile: JAn and wallace rae

Paraparaumu  |  75 and 79 years old

Seven years ago, Jan and Wallace Rae left their home of 46 years and moved to Paraparaumu, a town located about 55 kilometers(34 miles) north of Wellington. Their move was motivated in part by wanting to be closer to their three children and to help with their four young grandchildren.

However, they were also looking ahead to a time when they themselves might need assistance. In their smaller, one-level house with easy access to parks, shopping, transportation, and medical care, the couple live busy, independent lives.

Jan, a former high school biology teacher, is secretary to the parish council for their church and sings with the choir. An avid sewer, she belongs to a patchwork quilting group and knits clothing for the Nest Collective, a nonprofit group that donates baby essentials to families in need. She is also a guide leader for a local Brownie pack of 7- and 8-year-old girls. Jan has served as a guide leader with GirlGuiding NZ for 48 years, mentoring hundreds of girls both in her former city of New Plymouth and in Paraparaumu.

Despite being retired from his career as an industrial chemist, Wallace continues to stay current on developments in the field and takes on the occasional consulting job. He spends roughly four hours per day reading relevant articles and conducting background research, which he says keeps him mentally stimulated. He plays tennis four times a week and volunteers with a wetland restoration group at the local park. He is also an avid photographer.

The couple have been married 54 years, and although they do some things together, the majority of their hobbies and interests are quite separate. For both Wallace and Jan, self-reliance is key, and their greatest fear is developing a disability that diminishes their ability to do things on their own. They have looked into retirement villages and care homes in their area, but for now are enjoying their active lifestyles to the fullest. “You don’t know when your health is going to pack up or you’re not going to be able to do something,” says Jan. “So, it’s important to keep doing as much as you can, while you can.”

The exterior of the Raes’ home, where they have lived for seven years.

Baby sweaters knitted by Jan Rae ready to be donated to local families in need.

A photo of the couple on their wedding day
in 1968.

Jan Rae checks her email and manages her busy weekly schedule.

Wallace tends the 500 square-foot garden outside of the couple’s home.

The GirlGuiding NZ facility in Paraparaumu, located a short 5-minute drive from her house.

Leading the weekly troop meeting with fellow guide leader Margaret Irvine, 74.

Proudly displaying her badges, earned through 48 years of service to the organization.