World War II was raging, Australia had joined the Allied Powers and Dr. Walter Diaz was stationed in New Guinea and on leave in Sydney. All prominent families were encouraged to take in soldiers, and Jean McKenzie’s parents and best friends, the Perrys, offered soldiers rooms for free. Walter was staying at the Perrys’ home when Jean happened to meet him while she was visiting Mrs. Perry. It was love at first sight for Walter, but not for Jean. The first thing Walter said was “Baby, I’d like to wrap you up in cellophane and take you home.” She was shocked, but finally warmed up to him after a year of courting.
They were married on June 24, 1944, the feast of St. John the Baptist Day at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Sydney at 11 a.m. Her parents had a grand wedding breakfast for about 100 guests at a private club. Jean’s dress was made of cotton lace, and her veil was silk illusion. Her flowers, which included peonies, orchids and stephanotis, were created by the foremost florist in Sydney. Her best friends pooled their wartime clothes ration books and helped to buy Jean’s trousseau. Her three-tiered wedding cake was a rich, dark fruitcake, as was the custom in Sydney.
They honeymooned in Katoomba in the Blue Mountains before Walter was called back to service in New Guinea. When they finally returned to the United States, they spent the rest of the war in San Francisco. Finally they were able to come home to New Orleans, where the Diazs had a beautiful reception for Jean at the Orleans Club.