for Better _ for Worse

Feb. 3-9, 2005
VOL 124 NO. 4
for Better _ for Worse
By Claudia Mathis/ SUN staff writer
SUN photo(s) Paul Finch
Have you ever wondered what keeps married people together a long time?

What is it that holds the marriage together so well?

What are the secrets of a long-lasting marriage?

Three couples in the diocese were asked these questions. Their stories follow.

Jim and Nancy Metcalfe are parishioners of St. Paul’s Church in Oswego and have been married 48 years. Jim and Nancy met through friends while attending high school in 1951. After graduating from high school, Jim joined the Army and Nancy wrote to him. When Jim left the Army at age 21, he started to date Nancy, who was at the time attending S.U.N.Y. Oswego. Four months later they became engaged. Jim realized that Nancy was the girl he wanted to marry and he surprised her with a diamond engagement ring. “I knew she was a nice girl,” remarked Jim. Nancy wanted to marry Jim because she admired both the way that he interacted with people and his sense of humor. She was confidant that he was the right person for her to marry. “I knew he would be committed to me,” said Nancy. “The only doubt I had was that he was of a different religion.”

By the time the couple renewed their vows on their 25th wedding anniversary in 1982, Jim had converted to Catholicism. Jim and Nancy feel that their strong faith has kept their marriage alive. “It’s part of my life,” said Nancy. “It’s always there.” Helping out at St. Paul’s Church is very important to the couple. Jim served on the parish council, helped out at church dinners and helped cook at the annual parish picnic. Nancy was the director of the religious education department and still teaches there today. “I believe in it so much,” said Nancy. Her granddaughter Mariah, who is six years old, is among her students. Nancy was going to retire from teaching last year, but she decided to continue when she realized that her granddaughter was going to be among her students. Nancy visits shut-ins through her involvement with the St. Vincent de Paul Society and Jim assists Nancy by driving her.

The couple raised four children. They cite their love for one another and for their family as the most important thing that kept their marriage intact. The entire family was involved in sports. Their three sons participated in various sports and their daughter was a cheerleader at Bishop Cunningham High School in Oswego.

They attribute their success to humor, support of one another and common interests. “We’ve had a lot of laughs,” said Jim. The couple remembered a funny incident that occurred before Jim converted to Catholicism. Nancy was inside the church helping the nuns by covering the statues with purple cloths. Jim came to the church to meet Nancy and to take her home. He noticed the purple cloths and asked what the color purple stood for. The nuns explained that it was Passion Week. Jim replied, “I am all for that!”

Jim and Nancy were both teachers – she taught kindergarten at Fitzhugh Park Elementary School and he taught history at Oswego Middle School. They have been supportive of one another throughout their marriage. In 1965, Nancy needed to spend a week at Cornell University for training in the Head Start program. Jim supported her by taking care of their three children while she attended the training session. Because they were both teachers, they had a common background when they talked over problems that they encountered while teaching. Jim and Nancy also enjoyed S.U. sports and traveled together.

As in most marriages, disagreements sometimes arose for Nancy and Jim. When they couldn’t resolve the issue, they decided to just “let it go.” Ann and John De Luca, parishioners of St. Vincent de Paul Church in Syracuse, have been married for 59 years. “We’re in it for the long haul – it’s amazing,” said Ann. Faith has been an important catalyst in the success and longevity of their marriage. Ann and John have four children, five grandchildren and one great grandchild. “I absolutely enjoy my grandchildren,” said Ann. “Connection to family is important.” One of their children lives in the area, and the other three children live out of town. Ann and John relied on their strong faith when problems connected with the children arose. “Problems come up,” remarked Ann. “That’s when you rely on your faith. I relied on prayer.” Ann feels that they were well prepared for the ups and downs of marriage. Both she and John survived the Great Depression.

Ann and John share a common background. They are both from the New York City area. Ann is from New Rochelle and John is from Brooklyn. After being introduced to one other by a relative, Ann wrote to John when he was in the Air Force. They also share the same religious background. They are both from Catholic families.

When John was 21 years old, he asked Ann’s father for her hand. Ann said that young men used to ask the father for permission to marry their daughters out of respect. After getting married and living in New Rochelle, they moved to Syracuse in 1958. Both John and Ann share similar interests. They enjoy their involvement with St. Vincent de Paul Church. “It’s our second home,” said Ann. They belong to the senior citizens group and Ann serves on the Altar and Rosary Society and Auxiliary of the Legion of Mary. John serves as an usher in church. They have strong ties to the Knights of Columbus on Burnet Ave. John has been a member for 41 years and Ann has been involved in the women’s auxiliary. John and Ann owned and operated a number of diners throughout their life together. They cooked together while operating the diners. “We’ve been married a long time and it’s amazing,” said John.

Bill and Marion Snyder have been married 54 years, and they renewed their vows on their 25th, 40th and 50th anniversaries. They were actively involved in the St. Vincent de Paul Parish starting in 1955, when they moved to the area so that their four children could attend St. Vincent de Paul’s School. They take their faith seriously. Bill enjoyed serving as a lector and usher at church, and Marion was president of the Altar and Rosary Society for several years. “I have a lot of friends that are priests,” said Bill. “The nuns and priests have made me what I am. I’m happy. The nuns and priests are my family.”

Before Marion was married, she moved to Syracuse to live with her sister and worked at the Syracuse Beauty Culture School. She met Bill in 1948 through an incident that took place involving her sister, the man her sister was dating, and Bill. Marion’s sister’s boyfriend (who was also Bill’s friend) lost his wallet. Bill drove his friend to Marion’s apartment in an attempt to find the wallet. That is when Bill met Marion. “I liked the fact that Bill got along with my brothers, sisters and the rest of my family,” said Marion. They decided to marry after dating a few years. “I definitely wanted to marry,” said Bill. “My friends had all gotten married, so I figured I should.” Their married life was filled with humorous incidents. One of the most memorable incidents occurred when Marion was recuperating in the hospital after giving birth to her their first child, William. Bill and Marion’s brother went to the hospital in Watertown, N.Y. to visit Marion. There were two hospitals in Watertown at the time and Bill couldn’t remember which one Marion was staying in. At the first hospital, he gave the receptionist Marion’s maiden name in an attempt to locate her. After discovering that no one was registered under that name, he traveled to the other hospital where the same thing happened. Later that day, Bill and his brother-in-law finally realized that he had been giving the receptionists Marion’s maiden name instead of her married name. They finally located Marion and had a good laugh over their mistake.

Marion is in awe of their long marriage. “It’s a miracle,” said Marion. She thinks that the secrets for the success of their marriage are prayer and having patience with one another. Their strong faith kept them together through a number of tragedies. Two of their four children died at young ages. “Our faith had a lot to do with us getting through it,” said Marion. Bill and Marion share a love of the outdoors. They both enjoy camping and have traveled to California, Alabama, and New England.

Though all marriages and all relationships face adversity, strong faith, compassion, patience and love prove to be the keys for longevity. And, having fun together goes a long way, also.

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