Streetsboro — When Margaret Murvay was a teenager, she visited a friend whose nephew was serving in the U.S. Army in World War II.
“She told me I should write to him, so I did,” Margaret said. “We wrote to each other for three years before we ever met each other.”
When John Murvay returned home after the war, they finally met and began dating.
A short while later, they were married in 1946 — more than 67 years ago.
The Murvays were the longest married couple at a dinner ceremony to renew their wedding vows Feb. 12 at the Gardens of the Western Reserve in Streetsboro as Valentine’s Day approached. Eight couples were on hand, and five of them have been married 65 years or longer.
Chaplain Lori Pugh of Crossroads Hospice handled the ceremony. Couples held the ends of a small rope, “representing that [wives] will always hold your husband’s heart to yours,” she told them.
“We wanted to do renewal vows that would work for everyone,” she said afterward, explaining that walking and moving around was difficult for some participants.
The event was sponsored by Compassionate Care Hospice and Harbor Light Hospice along Gardens of the Western Reserve and Crossroads Hospice, and was spearheaded by Christine Heaton, Gardens activities director.
Couples were given a framed verse that included their wedding date along with a small cake with their names on it.
John Murvay, 90, vividly remembered when he met Margaret, 88.
“I was nervous and dumbfounded,” he said. “I couldn’t talk.”
“I said to John, ‘Well, what do you think?’” Margaret said. “He said, ‘You’re a little taller than I thought you’d be.’ That’s the first thing he said to me. He was like a mirage.”
The couple settled in Drakesburg and raised two daughters.
What is the secret to their marriage?
“She talks and I listen,” said John.
When Vito Pasquale, 83, met Joan Patsy, 82, he told his brother, “I’m going to marry her.”
The brother responded, “The heck you are.”
The brother was wrong. They were married in 1949, eight days after she turned 18, and raised three daughters. They have been married 64 years.
“One word — love,” Vito said.
Phillip and Betty Patterson, both 86, met at a roller skating rink in Cleveland and were married shortly afterward in 1948 — 65 years ago. They raised two boys.
“We never argue. We always get along,” Betty said when asked about their long marriage.
Bill Fraser, 65, and his wife, Lainey, 72 —relative newlyweds among the couples in the Gardens of the Western Reserve ceremony — were married six years ago. He wore a $500 kilt to the wedding ceremony, and she wound up wearing everyday clothes.
“That was fine with me,” she said, adding that a photo of her husband in a kilt and singing a song to her is on the front door of his senior citizens residence.
The couple met at church. “I slammed my thumb into an elevator, and I couldn’t tie my shoe, so Bill did it for me,” Lainey said.
What’s the secret to their longevity together?
“Humor,” she said with a smile.
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