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VA Seniors' Love Stories Stand Test Of Time On Valentine's Day

Patch logo Patch 4 days ago Emily Leayman
a group of people posing for the camera: Eleanor Karro displays her wedding dress as she and her husband David celebrate 50 years of marriage. © Emily Leayman/Patch Eleanor Karro displays her wedding dress as she and her husband David celebrate 50 years of marriage.

BAILEY'S CROSSROADS, VA — Eleanor Karro's husband David will never let her forget their wedding 50 years ago southwest Virginia, when her bouquet got lost and delayed the start of the ceremony. They can laugh about that memory now. The couple went on to have three children and lived in Falls Church City for 43 years. Now they're celebrating their 50th anniversary and live together at Goodwin House, a senior living community. Eleanor's wedding dress was one among the memorabilia residents displayed for Valentine's Day at Goodwin House Bailey's Crossroads.

The Valentine's Day display, featuring wedding dresses, photos, wedding albums, and more, tell love stories old and new. Ed Mott's photo recalled his 1958 marriage to his late wife Priscilla at Christ Church in Alexandria. The Virginia Beach high school sweethearts dated on and off for six years before Ed proposed. He was commissioned to the U.S. Navy after their wedding, but 61 happy years followed. Priscilla died in 2019, and Ed displayed her photo in her memory.

Mary Anne Regan's photo was accompanied by a story recalling her marriage to her husband Dan. They were married at the Parris Island USMC base in 1955 because Dan's Greek father didn't approve of Mary Anne's Catholic faith. His father ultimately accepted them when they brought a baby home to Chicago the next year. After living with Dan's father and brothers for a year, they all moved to Virginia in 1960. The couple had seven children and lived in the Lake Barcroft area before Dan died in 2006.

Gloria Gibson had two generations of dresses on display: her own from 1952 and her mother's from 1927. She married her husband John in Seattle after meeting at a college mixer dance at the University of Washington. Their wedding was very traditional, and reception didn't include alcohol — it wasn't allowed at the sorority house. They were married for 66 years before John died in 2018.

Not all dresses were white, and the couples' stories mirrored that break from tradition. Marietta Turner's gray wedding dress celebrates her new marriage with another senior resident, and Carole Hunt's photos were paired with the story of how she refused to wear white and came to wear a navy sequined dress.

Perhaps the vibrant colors of Carol Lewis' wedding dress stood out the most. She recalled how her late husband Leroy bought it from a high-end Australian retailer that just opened at Tysons Corner Center. The couple met through mutual friends while working near each other. Ten years of dating passed before they expressed their desires to get married while wading on the water at Virginia Beach. The couple married in 1993, and they've shared memories in their multi-generational, bi-racial family. They were married for 23 years before Leroy died in 2015.

Despite the different paths their love stories took, the seniors' advice for married couples has common threads. "Be good friends and share the same values," said Lewis. "And have a sense of humor," she added, laughing.

Ed Mott reiterated a simple rule for husbands: "try to be nice to your wife."

Eleanor Karro has one word of advice for married couples: "compromise." For Eleanor and David, it seemed to work for 50 years and counting.

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