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This Thanksgiving would have marked Marilyn and Donald Ward's 55th Wedding Anniversary had he not passed away last year.
They were wed on Nov. 24, 1956 in Trinity Lutheran Church in New Hyde Park, Long Island, New York - the start of a life steeped in love and family.
"Soon as I met him," she said, she knew he was somebody special. "He was just a wonderful guy," she said. "And he had a beautiful, black and white 1955 Pontiac Chieftain convertible with a red and white interior," she shares with a girlish giggle. The car may have grabbed her attention, but it's the man who won her heart.
"We were going together a year and two weeks before we got married," she says. Their engagement on Easter Sunday, which just happened to fall on April Fool's Day that year- was nothing shy of memorable. "He hands me the box and I say, 'It's so beautiful,'" Marilyn says. But, she hadn't yet opened it.
Nestled within the box's interior, where one might have expected a ring, was a broken washer.
"I chased him around the house with my dog at his heals," she laughs.
"Then, he finally gave me my Easter gift. And there's a scarf and he had pulled the scarf through the ring. It was a diamond. It's still on my ring finger," she says, not wanting to take them off.
He was a jokester who just loved to have fun, and a marvelous father who did everything with their three boys, from coaching Little League to Boy Scouting.
"Thank God I have three wonderful sons and a brother and sister-in-law and great friends," Marilyn says.
This Thanksgiving, what would have been her 55th Wedding Anniversary, Marilyn's rallied her family for a return trip to Woodloch Pines for an all-inclusive family vacation.
Having visited the Poconos resort in September with the Electricians Local 3 Retirees, Marilyn said, "I had such a wonderful time with all the people we were there with. It was just so lovely to see how they ran everything, how they couldn't do enough for you."
Her three boys and their wives and five grandchildren, along with her brother and sister-in-law, Fred and Marie Faas, will celebrate the season at Woodloch; a grand family reunion!
"I'm gong to have a picture on my table," Marilyn said. Taken in Vermont, it's a picture of her husband in a floppy hat, banging on a fry pan with a wooden spoon, calling everyone in to breakfast.
This Thanksgiving will be about family.
"Just comradeship. Just having a good time - all the family together," Marilyn said. "My husband would have loved it."
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Shared by: Tammy Compton ~ Woodloch Reservations
Who doesn't enjoy a good love story, liberally sprinkled with laughter?
It's easy to see that Joseph and Bernie Plescia of Mohegan Lake, N.Y. - now in their early eighties - are as much in love as when they first met more than 65 years ago. The two were teens when their paths first crossed at the White Plains Roller Skating Rink in New York.
"I thought he was good looking,” says Bernice with a smile. "I still am," Joseph jokes, emphatically agreeing with his beloved bride. His reply earns a round of laughter from family members gathered at Woodloch Pines, a Pocono family resort, a perfect setting to help them celebrate their 65th Anniversary.
"She talks and I listen," Joseph says. That, and remembering to use the two magic words "Yes Dear" has cemented their marriage. "Two words that I taught him to say," Bernice proudly says.
They were 18 when they eloped, exchanging vows they've carefully nurtured and never forsaken. "Through the rough, and believe me there have been rough times, we never forgot our marriage vows and why we got married," says Bernice. They renewed their vows on their 25th Wedding Anniversary, and again on their 50th and 60th Anniversaries.
September 27th is the big day.
The couple has three children: Sally Ann, Linda, and Stephen; two grandchildren: D.J. and Chris; and a great grandson David. "There's never a dull moment around our children," said Joseph.
Both retired, Joseph worked as a Purchasing Director for Reader's Digest for 42 years, while Bernice worked as a dentist's receptionist and bookkeeper.
This year marked the family's third trip to Woodloch. Daughter-in-law Anne says they found Woodloch while looking for an all-inclusive resort in the Pocono Mountains. "It's nice to be able to stay in a house where we're all together," she said.
Smiling as his wife talks, Stephen says, "Anne and I have been married 35 years and that's with their (his parents') example - their loyalty and commitment to each other. And they're fun, not overly serious about life. They enjoy life."
A sign outside one of Woodloch's Lake Estate's, a privately owned 5 bedroom guest home, reads: Live, laugh and love. "It's a good sentiment and it really typifies them," says Stephen. "Their commitment to each other," Sally Ann chimes in. "They express affection to one another. This is their 65th Anniversary and you would think that they would want to be alone, but they want us all together, to celebrate together."
Daughter Linda says it's her parents "sense of humor and strength of commitment to each other" that really stands out.
"I mean, they still walk together holding hands. They're always there for each other. There's never been any doubt that they're a team," Linda says.
The best part about being married?
"Is having a best friend," Bernice says.
Joseph seconds his wife's sentiment. Tenderly holding her hand, he says,"If I could do it all over again, I would."