In a day when marriages seem to struggle to stay afloat, it is inspiring to see those that have literally lasted a lifetime giving the ceremony a boost of confidence that indeed “’till death do us part” can be achieved.
On Tuesday, May 15th, two couples renewed their wedding vows at Creekwood Nursing and Rehab Center in Russellville, where they live. It was a beautiful double service complete with all the wedding bliss including ministers, wedding gowns, music, and a standing room only audience to witness the special occasion.
The event was organized by Creekwood Activities director Betty Nelson, to not only honor the couple’s many years together, but also to celebrate Nursing Home Week. Nelson and many others, including the center’s director Elizabeth Gettings, jumped on board to help create a very special memory for the four “not quite” newlyweds.
Paul and Alma Shelton and JT and Marilyn Collier once again pledged their eternal love and commitment to one another, only this time it was 60 plus years after they did it the first time, their lives and looks are a bit different, but their love is just as strong and passionate as ever.
We will begin will the Sheltons, both raised in Logan County and married for 65 years. Paul, 85 and Alma, 89, began their lives together after Alma’s date couldn’t make it and he asked a friend (Paul) if he could take her home.
“That was his first mistake,” said Paul, who later asked Alma to marry him just three weeks later.
“It was love at first sight,” said the grinning groom “and I didn’t want anyone else to have her.”
Alma, who has battled health problems for a while, said her husband has been a good man.
“He has taken care of me when I couldn’t take care of myself,” she said.
And when neither one could take care of the other they decided together, as they had done with decisions throughout their lives, that they no longer could live on their own at their home on Bonnie Drive where they raised five children and chose to live together at Creekwood.
“Our daughters tried to care for us, but then they fell ill,” said Alma, who broke both of her legs and has undergone four hip surgeries. Alma said it was difficult for Paul to keep after her because his sight had diminished and they just had to do what they had to do.
“At least we are together,” said Alma.
The couple lives in the same room at Creekwood. They have called that room home for the past three and a half years. “Coming here together made it a lot easier for us,” said Alma.
The couple admits they were a little a unsure about the second wedding, but after it began Alma says it was really sweet even getting a little nervous.
“I still stand by my first vows, they were good then and they are good now,” said a smiling Paul, who held that smile and Alma’s hand throughout the ceremony.
“A lot of people get married today and divorced tomorrow. True love will take you through,” Paul said.
JT and Marilyn Collier have been married 61 years this September. The wedding at Creekwood meant so much to Marilyn because it was the wedding she always wanted, but never had.
“God is closing a book,” said Marilyn of the wedding. “He has allowed us to have this now. If I had had the time back then this is what I would have done. It’s what I’d hoped for 61 years ago.”
JT, 83 and Marilyn, 80 got married in a whirlwind the first time around. The couple had been dating a while and marriage was definitely the direction the two were heading; however, JT got drafted to serve during the Korean conflict, which whisked him away to California and out of Marilyn’s arms before they could say “I do.”
After JT’s basic training was over he came back to Michigan to marry Marilyn, but it was so quick they didn’t have time to even book a church and ended up getting married at her parents’ house with a reception in the basement. JT was then flown back to California to prepare to travel to Korea.
“It all happened so fast,” said Marilyn, who did get to fly to California and spend a couple of days with her new husband before he left her for over a year.
JT and Marilyn met in Michigan where she lived and he had gone to work as a teenager. He was from Logan County and followed his brother to the northern state where everyone seemed to flock for a job in the 1940s. He lived in a boarding house and was fixed up with Marilyn on a double date with a fellow boarding house buddy and her sister. Marilyn said they went dancing at a ballroom and began seeing each other from that point on. “He was really the first date I had ever had,” said Marilyn.
After JT retired, the couple moved to Logan County - back where JT was from. Marilyn said it was always the plan. The couple were not blessed with children despite wanting them, but Marilyn says, “It just wasn’t in God’s plan.” But the couple have become extremely close to one another because they are all each other has, she says.
Like the Sheltons, the Colliers found it was difficult to take care of one another. Both have physical aliments and keeping up a home and themselves became a struggle, so they found it easier to go somewhere where they could get a little help. The husband and wife share a room at Creekwood and have been there together for the past few months. “At least we are together,” said Marilyn, adding, “What will come will come.”