Couples celebrate golden anniversaries
At a ceremony honoring couples married for 50 years or longer at St. Barnabas last Thursday, Charles Cannoni talks about how he met his wife Lena, right. The Cannonis have been married for 65 years and were celebrating their anniversary, having wed on June 7, 1947.
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Bob and Shirley Seethaler met on a trolley as she commuted to her job as a secretary and he headed for classes at the University of Pittsburgh.
Jim and Joan Weideman met on a blind date.
Armel and Jean Treese met at a skating rink where Jean was celebrating her 18th birthday.
And Bob and Aileen Zollweg met at a church picnic.
They were among the 38 couples who celebrated over 50 years of marriage at the Golden Wedding Anniversary Party last Thursday at The Village of St. Barnabas in Richland.
Ranging from 54 years to 71 years in marriage, the couples were honored and were part of a short service by the Rev. Richard Morledge, pastor emeritus of the First Presbyterian Church of Bakerstown. An anniversary reception followed.
"I've never been married, so I don't know what you are going through, but I have performed over 1,000 weddings," Rev. Morledge said.
"Thank you for showing us a word that is missing in our vocabulary -- commitment. Marriage is having a tough time in our society today, and you are showing commitment."
He made the couples laugh when he shared the story of a man married for a long time.
"When I asked him if he had ever considered divorce, he replied, 'Divorce? No. Murder? Yes,' " Rev. Morledge said.
Pam Fickes, director of recreation at St. Barnabas, who organized the event asked the couples about how they met and about their weddings that included mishaps, near wedding misses and elopements. Many married around wars and military service with small weddings while others, like the Santellas, had big weddings.
"We had 800 guests, so when it was time to leave our reception I couldn't find him," said Phyllis Santella of her husband of 65 years, Dario.
The couples joked, shared stories about how they met and offered marital advice.
"I was really shy and not much of a dater, but when I saw the girl next door, I said, 'Whooee, she looks like the one,' " said Charles Cannoni of his wife, Lena. The Cannonis celebrated their 65th anniversary that day.
Rev. Morledge asked the couples to look at each other and think about their years together.
"You are setting an example not only here in Gibsonia, but for all over the world. You show commitment and are an inspiration that marriage works," he said.
Bryce and Rose Billetdeaux, formerly of Moon, who were married on Dec. 31, 1942, met through a friend.
They have three sons and shared their tips for a long marriage.
"Be satisfied with what you have," she said.
Mr. Billetdeaux added, "Live together apart.
You can't be together all of the time -- go back and forth. Share your lives, but have other interests."
Joe Papalia, general manager, toasted the couples, making special recognition of the longest couple, Art and Rose Gravina, married for 71 years.
"It is my honor to recognize these couples and to also honor those who lost their spouses, but still have the wonderful memories of their marriages," he said afterward.
Mr. and Mrs. Gravina were accompanied by their son, Tom, of Fox Chapel, and their daughter, Carol Gravina Reis, of McCandless.
"She's 102 and he is 97. They have eight grandchildren and six great-grandchildren now," Tom Gravina said. "They've had a great marriage."
Art Gravina recalled meeting his wife in a small village. "She asked me to take her out, and I did," he said.
Tom Gravina said his father says he has a secret for a long marriage, but doesn't share it.
"He will tell us, 'Then it wouldn't be a secret now, will it?' " he joked.
First Published June 14, 2012 5:47 am