We were blessed to celebrate forty years of marriage this summer. Our story began in the fall of 1971, the first year out of college for both of us, in Pittsburgh, PA, where Diane was an elementary art teacher and John was working for Westinghouse. We met by chance at a college hangout near the University of Pittsburgh. Less than a year later, on August 26, 1972, we were married. Our relationship developed from friendship into a desire to spend the rest of our lives together and although much has happened in those 40 years, we are still best friends and would rather be with each other than anyone else.
We had our first child, Peter, in 1975, two years later, Amanda was born and then Stacey in 1980. Our three children continue to be a blessing to us and we travel to visit them whenever we can. Pete and his wife Kelly live in South Carolina with their three children, Amanda and her husband Christopher live in New York City, and Stacey lives in Charlotte, North Carolina. Another little one will join the family soon as Amanda and Christopher are expecting their first child.
Nothing in life can make you appreciate what you have like the possibility of losing it. In 1981 Diane was diagnosed with an advanced stage of malignant melanoma. After surgery and years of tests, Diane thankfully remains healthy and strong. Although it was a difficult time for us both emotionally and physically, it was a time in our lives when our faith grew and we learned to appreciate each other and our family in a much deeper way than we ever knew was possible. We look back on this hard time and are thankful for it and how it has shaped our lives and marriage.
Before settling in Bradenton in 2001, we spent over 20 years in Ohio, where the kids grew up and went to school. We left many good friends in there when we moved here to live on “vacation” full time, although we both are still employed. Diane is an eighth grade guidance counselor at Haile Middle School in Manatee County, helping shape the younger generation. John works at the Bradenton Honda Store, helping clients improve their personal transportation.
This summer at our daughter Amanda’s wedding, John was asked by one of her friends what the secret is to a successful marriage. There are many answers to that question, but he answered what had worked for us for the past forty years: our lasting commitment to our Lord, our lasting commitment to each other, and a good sense of humor. We once heard and often use the expression “murder maybe but divorce never”! That makes us laugh and then we can handle whatever seems to be causing a crisis in our lives.
Because of our daughter’s wedding this year, we didn’t do that extra special celebration that we thought we would for our 40th wedding anniversary. Now we are thrilled and honored that the Sarasota Pops has given us that opportunity with the chance to share our life’s blessings and the renewal of our vow of a lifelong commitment to each other.