Retha and Caroline

Interview with Retha Theron and Caroline Nel


Retha Theron was born in 1969 in a tiny little town called Benoni in the province Transvaal, South Africa. Incidentally, Charlise Theron (no family relation) grew up in this same town. Retha’s family, which included her parents, an older sister and younger brother, moved to another small town called Delmas. There her father later opened his own law firm and her youngest brother was born. She completed her schooling in Delmas and moved on to study Horticulture at a college in Pretoria. For the next eighteen years, she pursued a successful career in that field while remaining in Pretoria. The decision to emigrate convinced her to register at a Canadian university to qualify her for the career that she actually always loved: running and managing a retail business. She is currently a second year Business Administration student at Capilano University.

Caroline Nel was also born in 1969 in an American Missionary hospital in a town called Makwasa in the African country of Malawi. Caroline’s parents loved to travel which explains why her three siblings were all born in different African countries. Her father, contracted to a mining company as an Auto Diesel Engineer, had the perfect career for their adventures, as the mining company required him to visit different sites all over the continent. Caroline’s family resided in Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) until her tenth birthday when they moved to Argentina for a brief time due to the Bush War in Rhodesia. They later moved to South Africa where she completed her schooling and then joined the South African Air Force, starting in the trade of Radio Air Technician and advancing to facilitator and student supervisor in the radio and communication department. She left the air force after ten years of service when she expanded her career into commercial airline maintenance division as an Aircraft Maintenance Engineer Avionic. There she worked on Boeing, MD and C130 Hercules as well as contracting out to the United Nations in Uganda. She moved on to work on the Presidential aircraft fleet: the Falcon Executive Jet and the Boeing Business Jet.

Even though Retha and Caroline knew the same people, hung out at the same places, they were never there at the same times. They only met in 2005 while attending the same church and both were single at that time. Caroline was impressed by the way Retha made an entrance and by her whole personality. There was an immediate attraction from Caroline’s side. She would leave work just to meet Retha for lunch, sometimes twisting her supervisor’s arm with a little lie just to be able to slip away. Caroline used all her charms, but Retha did not want to be committed to a relationship in the beginning. This changed when they got to know each other and realised that their interests and values were the same, loved nature and being outdoors, and had same outlook on the future. They got married in 2008 with all their friends present to celebrate with them. At the ceremony they read their vows to each other from the heart.

Retha and Caroline love to explore the natural beauty of British Columbia by walking the trails in the parks of Coquitlam and surrounding cities. They love their two fox terrier dogs that came all the way from South Africa with them. The puppies love Canada, especially the squirrels here! Both Retha and Caroline played field hockey in school but now they prefer cycling, walking and running.

At this year’s Vancouver Pride, Retha picked up a copy of the Queer Film Festival’s catalogue where she found the Vancouver Frontrunners contact details on the community partner’s page. In order to keep us motivated to stay fit as well as make a few new friends, we decided to join the group. We were welcomed and made to feel at home from the first run and walk. Retha initiation into the running group was: “Can you do the Whistler relay with us?” The great part about the brunch after the Saturday run is that it gives us the opportunity to get to know people much better. What we enjoy the most about Vancouver Frontrunners is that we can enjoy the company of people who are like us, down to earth, who look after their health, and are part of the LGBT family where we can be ourselves. Caroline loves the walks with the guys. Neil was the first to start chatting and from the start felt part of a great group of people friendly faces all around.