Couples married 50 years feted at event
For The Sunbury News
At least 4,200 years of marriage were represented Saturday at the second annual Beyond Golden Anniversary Celebration, attended by 84 couples married at least 50 years.
The second annual event was held at Willow Brook at Delaware Run, sponsored by Willow Brook Christian Communities, The Delaware Gazette and the Council for Older Adults.
Honors presented included a Most Life Experience Award based on the combined age of husband and wife.
The award went to three couples, Verena and Paul Holcomb, Shirley and James Jackson, and Marjorie and John Rutherford.
The Jacksons were married in 1951, when he was 29 years old and she was 28.
They might have been married earlier, they said, but World War II intervened.
James Jackson was an officer in the Navy and crossed the Atlantic on a destroyer escort. He was transferred to the Pacific and was scheduled to command a coastal transport vessel in the invasion of Japan.
The nuclear attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki led Japan to surrender before an invasion was needed. He went into the reserves and was called to active duty for the Korean War, soon after they married.
Asked for their secret to a long and happy marriage, the couple said “respect” almost simultaneously.
“We agree on respect as being the base,” he said. “Right,” she said.
“Having the same background certainly helps, too,” she said. “We like the same things and enjoy the same things.” They both like to travel, read and play bridge, they said.
When she said “the same background,” she meant that literally.
Their mothers were friends who attended the same church in New Jersey when Shirley and James were small children, and they traveled side-by-side in baby carriages.
Happiness for them hasn’t been a struggle, they said. Being happy “was a natural thing, as far as we were concerned,” he said.
“We just like each other, as well as love each other,” she said. “We don’t always agree, but we get over it.”
Stable influences also were a factor, she said. Both their parents and their grandparents had “very stable families,” she said, as did their siblings. “It was just a stable atmosphere in our homes.”
The Jacksons have lived in five states and believe moving to Delaware “was the best move we ever made,” she said. Their daughter lives in Delaware and a son lives in Pennsylvania. They have four grandchildren and reside in Willow Brook Christian Village off U.S. 23S.
Not only has the couple had a successful marriage, they also thrived when operating a business together.
Called Total Conference Planning Inc., they staged business sessions around the nation, calling on part on his experience in hotel management. He earlier had worked as a life insurance agent. She had worked for Prudential for 22 years.
In their own business, he worked outside the office, which she managed. “We worked together very well,” she said.
They remain active. He works two mornings a week at Hidden Valley Golf Course and she volunteers one day a week for the Red Cross.
Also at the event, Donald and Dianne Almendinger were recognized for the most recent anniversary date among those attending. They celebrated their 61st anniversary the day before the celebration.
Among those who signed up for the event, Dorothy and Bernard Patrick received the Most Years Married Award, at 76. Maxine and Richard Kelley received the Look How Far You’ve Come Award, given to the couple whose wedding was the farthest away from Delaware.