At the end of the day – when the vows have been said and the cake has been eaten – it’s the one by your side that matters the most. The person who loves you at your best and your worst, no matter the circumstance. And while we’re all about the details and design, and have been known to squeal over a peony bouquet, stories are the heartbeat of each wedding feature, which is where these two darlings come in. Seven kids and 66 years later these two are still hanging out together and having fun along the way. That’s marriage, you guys. Read on for the story and more anniversary inspiration in THE VAULT.
From Kate Ignatowski… My grandparents have a really inspiring love story, if only for the fact that they have been married for SIXTY SIX years. That is commitment!
It all started when they met at a student United Nations conference while they were in college. Grandpa tells me that Grandma was the best looking girl there. “And that is no lie.” Afterwards, they kept in touch with handwritten letters. In one exchange, Grandpa wrote that he would come to visit her college. She told him he could come, but her curfew was 11. Grandpa then told his buddies that she meant to write just one 1.. i.e. he was sticking to a 1AM curfew. When my grandmother was telling me this, she began to giggle. “Grandpa really is a cute person.”
When my grandfather finished undergrad, he gave up a full scholarship to Drexel Law School (the only one the college gave out each year) in order to go to Cornell so he could be closer to Grandma in her home town of Athens, PA. Grandpa adds that he was on the wait list at Yale, and he would have turned them down as well had they accepted him.
After law school, Grandpa was drafted into the army and stationed at Fort Monmouth in New Jersey. So during one of his visits with Grandma, he proposed marriage. He tells me that she was quite willing, which he thought was unusual since he didn’t consider himself a good prospect at the time. Apparently they were “poor as church mice!” They married in a simple ceremony at the fort in June of 1949.
Once Grandpa was discharged from the army, they moved to a small town in upstate New York where they knew no one. Grandpa began practicing law and soon was elected a State Supreme Court Justice. Grandma spent her days raising seven children, and Grandpa was a judge for 22 years before he went back to practicing law (which he still does full-time at 91!).
They tell me that they’ve had a pleasant marriage with some ups and downs, which they have managed. They still live on their own and my grandfather takes great care of my grandmother, for which she is very grateful. He told me that she would do the same for him if he was the one that needed caring for.
They built a life together and fulfilled a promise to take care of each other. It is that simple and that extraordinary.
Photography: Kate Ignatowski