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August 20, 2010

A Golden Anniversary

Joe Charlebois

Fifty years ago Howard and Julianne took their vows as husband and wife Easter Monday 1960. At that time, the Catholic Church didn’t allow for the sacrament of Holy Matrimony to take place during the season of Lent.


So, on the day after Easter on an April Monday in Youngstown, OH, they were wed. They never could have imagined what the future would hold for them five, 20 or even 50 years down the line.


From their early days in Jamaica, Queens, New York, and living on a Navy man’s salary, they started the adventure that was celebrated last week. They would eventually have two children while in New York before moving to Milwaukee, WI, so that Howdy could do graduate work at Marquette University. They struggled to make it financially, skimping any way they could. There was a point when it became necessary to mix water with evaporated milk just to make ends meet.


They had a third child while in Wisconsin and serious health issues of that child added even more pressures to an already stressful situation. Eventually that child’s health would improve.


In due course the young family would move to Pittsburgh. They were now just an hour from family in Ohio. Business improved and Howdy and Julie would have two more children before 1970. A sixth and final child would be born in 1975.


The couple raised their six children with a common sense approach to life, respect for others and a sense of family that has been passed down to their six children, and subsequently their grandchildren. They have 14 grandchildren now, and – even though separated by time and distance – these cousins exhibit that same sense of familial love that Howard and Julie have shared over the last 50 years.


This past week every one of their children, spouses and grandchildren made the time and effort to come together to return the love that they had been so generously given. Two families flew in from the northwest while others drove five to six hours to get there.


The week’s agenda included a retrospective movie, a wedding reception (dancing and wedding cake included), a Maryland blue crab feast and various activities including sailing on the Chesapeake Bay introducing a third generation to the challenge of sailing.


Howard and Julie, although they would never admit it, are a stellar example of what a couple can be. They would never coddle but rather they would support. They would allow failure to become a great teacher. They taught what it means to be a man or a woman, a gentleman or a lady. They instilled pride into their children. But most of all they taught their children how to love.


The one thing that people that meet Howdy and Julie are sure to understand is that to this day they share an unending love and affection for each other, their children and grandchildren.


This past week, in essence, was Howdy and Julie’s second honeymoon – with all the kids this time. This was their anniversary wish and I wouldn’t be surprised if they are still smiling a week after their family went home.


Happy anniversary, Mom and Dad.


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