Celebrations Spotlight: Sheila and Jack Murtagh
Jack and Sheila (Horsman) Murtagh, 65 and 67 respectively, celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary on August 12, 2012. The couple has two children: Kerin (Goethals) and John W. Murtagh III and one grandchild: Ryan Goethals. They reside in Ingomar.
Q: How did you meet?
Jack: We met when two separate groups of friends ran into each other at a dance at a restaurant in suburban Philadelphia. Sheila was teaching elementary school in the area and I was in my second year of law school.
Sheila: We met at a mixer in Bala Cynwyd and it was love at first sight.
Q: Who introduced you?
Sheila: Jack approached me and asked me to dance. He wanted me to be his date to an upcoming Halloween party. I had to decline because I was planning to be in Pittsburgh that weekend, but gave him my phone number.
Q: Where did you each grow up?
Jack: I grew up in Brooklyn and on Long Island and then went to college and law school in Philadelphia.
Sheila: I was raised in Ambridge where my parents taught high school. I later went to Westminster College.
Q: Who proposed? How?
Sheila: Jack cut a tiny ad out of the Philadelphia Bulletin that said "Tiffany's has many modest proposals." We drove to NYC to pick out a ring that afternoon. He formally proposed two weeks later on March 31.
Jack: I wanted to wait until April Fool's Day to propose, but she wouldn't let me.
Q: Where were you married? Why did you choose that site?
Sheila: We were married in my childhood church, First United Methodist of Ambridge, by Rev. Norman Young. Jack secured a dispensation from Cardinal Krol in Philadelphia to do that because he was and still is Catholic.
Q: Where was the reception and honeymoon? Why did you choose those sites?
Jack: Our reception was at the Ambridge Country Club in Harmony Township, Beaver County with a honeymoon in Nova Scotia.
Sheila: We chose the country club because it was welcoming and familiar and the right size for our rather small, by today's standards, wedding. We chose Nova Scotia because we thought it was exotic and remote and we wanted to be alone.
Q: What is your favorite wedding memory?
Jack: One vivid memory that I can still see today is Sheila standing in the narthex with her father, about to walk down the aisle. She was beaming. The sunlight, filtered by the stained glass windows, lit up her blonde hair to match her smile.
Sheila: I remember our friend, Joyce, singing folk songs at the reception. We didn???t have a band or dancing.
Q: Are there any current wedding trends that you wish you could have incorporated?
Jack: Not really. Contemporary wedding festivities seem to be multi-day affairs. I wanted to start being married!
Sheila: We wouldn't have changed a thing. It was just perfect for us.
Q: Do you still own any of your wedding gifts?
Sheila: Lots. A big Lazy Susan from Tiffany's, a Super 8 movie camera, our place settings, a candlestick, a desk lamp I still love and some lovely artwork.
Jack: I have the gold pocket watch that Sheila gave me.
Q: What is the secret to your successful marriage?
Sheila: Lots of love and understanding.
Jack: Simple ??? I married Sheila.
Q: What activity do you most enjoy as a couple?
Sheila: Biking. We just finished a 318-mile bike trip from Washington D.C. to West Newton on the C&O Canal and GAP trails.
Jack: Watching Sheila ride!
Q: How did you celebrate your anniversary?
Jack: Biking the Allegheny River Trail in Venango County.
Sheila: At a quiet B&B in the country
Any other details:
Jack: Forty years sounds like an impossibly long time to spend together, but I'd happily spend 40 more with Sheila.
Sheila: We're looking forward to retirement and many more happy years in Pittsburgh.
First Published August 14, 2012 3:40 pm