Valentine's Day is a reminder of the importance of having someone to love and of having someone love you, and three Quoddy area couples agree that patience, love and respect have helped keep their marriages long and happy.
Mutual respect and support
Omer and Sandra Brunet of Campobello have been married for 52 years and met when they were both serving in the air force at Canadian Forces Base Baden-Soellingen in Germany, which is about 10 kilometers west from Baden-Baden.
"The first time I saw her was when she was a bridesmaid at her best friend's wedding," recalls Omer, who was born in the small northern Ontario town of Kapuskasing. "She was 25, slightly older than me."
"My first impression of him was that he was crazy," the former Sandra Tinker chuckles. "After a few drinks, they were all acting up."
"I worked for her best friend's husband Reg so got her phone number, but we had no phones in the barracks. So a week or two after the wedding, I got one of the girls to get her to talk to me," remembers Omer fondly. "I asked if Sandra was there, and she was, so we talked and then went out for a movie. I think it was Tom Jones."
"That went well, so we kept on dating, going to dances on base or in local places," he recalls of their courtship. "We did a lot of laughing and we got along good together, so we decided to get married."
On September 11, 1963, the same day that Sandra's parents Hilda and Calvin Tinker had wed at Wilson's Beach, the couple said their vows in front of the mayor of Baden-Baden. They followed that with a ceremony in the base chapel on September 12.
"Back then, if you got pregnant, you had to get out of the service, so that is what happened to me," recalls Sandra, and daughter Verona was soon added to the family.
The Brunets moved to Canadian Forces Base Trenton in Ontario in 1967, and three years later Omer was transferred to Canadian Forces Station Val d'Or, Quebec, where they remained for four years. In 1970 he was assigned to Canadian Forces Base Cornwallis, Nova Scotia, until 1977, when he was transferred to Quebec, again, until he retired in 1980. In the meantime, the family had grown to include son Patrick and daughter Dorinda, and they made a permanent move to Wilson's Beach.
"We've had ups and downs in our marriage, but we're always there for each other, so that would be my advice for others," stresses Omer. "Respect one another."
Marriage takes work
It's been almost 47 years since they eloped, but Bill and Cathy Daye of Lubec are still enjoying each other's company and agree that their marriage is as strong as ever.
"We harken back to the generation that would not throw away something important and would work at it to fix it," stresses Bill. "They don't do that so much today."
Bill Daye and Cathy Ducharme, now 66 years old, both grew up in Brooklyn, New York, but did not meet until 1968. "I did a summer job with a Wall Street bank, and Cathy was working for the post office that summer and came in to deliver mail," fondly recalls Bill. "My boss asked me to show her to the mail room, and I showed her to the mail room."
"Then came fall, and we were both students at Fordham University. I was in the registrar's office to change something and there was that girl in front of me," recalls Bill of his second sighting of Cathy.
They began dating, and among their favorite activities were visiting the "medieval-like" Metropolitan Museum of Art Cloisters and hiking. "She was a pretty girl, and we hit it off, [although] she played a little hard to get," chuckles Bill.
He was working for the bank again, and Cathy was employed by an editing company when Bill proposed to her "right in the street" during a lunch break and she accepted. Now engaged, Bill and Cathy were too young to be married without their parents' permission in New York, so they drove down to Dillon, N.C., and were wed on May 28, 1970, by a justice of the peace. "We had my two best friends in the car with us, so they stood up with us," recalls Bill.
The Dayes began vacationing in Maine, and Bill explains, "Each year we'd get further up the coast and we eventually found Lubec. We stayed for a week and decided we wanted a place of our own, so we bought a property from Barney Rier 30 years ago, and when I retired as a policeman, this is where we permanently moved."
The Dayes have six children and 13 grandchildren, and Bill praises his wife as "a great mother and great grandmother."
And the secrets of their successful marriage? "He makes me laugh," stresses Cathy, while Bill says, "She's stuck with me through thick and thin. It's not easy being married to a cop and getting phone calls in the middle of the night."
Remember your vows
Wayne and Roberta Seeley of Edmunds will be celebrating their 53rd anniversary in 2017.
"It's been a very happy 52 years," stresses Roberta. "Wayne jokes that it is a success because he gets in the last two words in every argument. 'Yes, dear.'"
"We first met in high school back in 1961," recalls the former Roberta Davis. "He was going to Shead, and I was a student in Pembroke."
It wasn't until one year later, when the two attended a dance in Pembroke together, that "we started talking and discovered we liked each other," recalls Roberta. "Besides going to dances, we had fun going to school basketball games and parties. Wayne jokes that he helped with the dishes at my house before we went anywhere."
Although Wayne's family moved to Connecticut and Roberta was working in Portland, the romance was not dimmed, and the two were married by Rev. Cedric Brooks in the People's Methodist Church in Pembroke on September 12, 1964. Norma Cushing was Roberta's maid of honor, and Wayne's brother Carl served as best man.
"We had six children, five sons and one daughter, and we both have worked several jobs over the years," says Roberta of her life together with Wayne. "I was mail carrier for the Pembroke Post Office, and Wayne drove the bus from the Edmunds school and then he was employed at Cobscook Bay State Park [as maintenance coordinator], which is where he retired from, but he still works summers."
Roberta, now 71, is slightly older than Wayne and chuckles, "He still jokes that he married his baby-sitter."
The couple enjoys traveling together, and their vacations have taken them to Pennsylvania, Delaware and Texas in recent years to see family members. "We enjoy our grandchildren and great-grandchildren," adds Roberta of their retirement years.
The Seeleys both stress that the secrets to a happy marriage include having patience, a sense of humor and, most importantly, "You have to remember your vows."