By Muriel J. Smith |
Some met in high school, college or as young adults. Some knew from the instant they laid eyes on each other; others become fast friends and pals or dated or married others first. They all had one thing in common: the consensus of these married couples with more than 425 years as husband and wife is you must learn to roll with the punches.
TONY AND CAROL BUCCO
For Tony and Carol Bucco of Highlands, it started with blending their two strong ethnic backgrounds and their age difference of 14 years. With the groom coming from a very large Italian family from Matawan and the bride from a small Irish family in Highlands, Tony thought from the start that there could be difficulties to overcome. When he and Carol met in 1963 through a friend who took her and her sister to a Catholic Youth Adult Club meeting in Keansburg, it was Carol’s sister who passed Carol’s phone number to the World War II veteran, and Anthony Bucco began his pursuit of a much younger Carol.
“That’s how it all began, “Carol laughs, “That was the fun part –deciding to marry was more difficult mainly because of our age difference.”
After more than 52 years of marriage, five children, 10 living grandchildren and two who have predeceased them, and both retired, Carol from her job as a high school math teacher and Tony as a senior clerk with Jersey Central Power and Light, they’re still going strong. Tony, who turned 94 earlier this month, isn’t as active as he has been in the past, but still lights up a room with his quiet, droll sense of humor and words of wisdom.
Neither the age difference nor the ethnic differences seemed to present any real problems, the couple think now, looking back. The bigger problems really came with the more ordinary concerns of getting children through college and raising them to proper adulthood.
The Buccos’ advice for couples looking at marriage today would be simply to love each other enough to tolerate individual differences. “It’s important not to harbor any animosity for a long period of time. You can go to sleep angry, but you shouldn’t wake up that way. Having a strong faith and learning to tolerate each other’s differences and similarities make it all doable,” she said.
LILLIAN AND DONALD BURRY
It’s been just over 60 years since Lillian G. Beneforti stood in New York’s historic Trinity Church and pledged vows to recently commissioned Coast Guard officer Donald Burry, the man she knew and loved from their days at Wagner College on Staten Island. The elegant wedding was followed by an even more elegant reception at the famed Delmonico’s Restaurant.
Following his military service, Don, a chemical engineer, went on to be East Coast regional manager for Rohm Haas Chemical Co. of Philadelphia and Lillian left teaching to take on the challenges of volunteer work, first for the environment, then for the League of Women Voters, political officer locally and ultimately on the Monmouth County Board of Freeholders where she is tireless while Don patiently stands back with support and assistance.
Parents of a daughter, with two grandchildren and two great grandchildren, the Burrys believe there has to be mutual respect, integrity and flexibility, and with that, “everything else will flow.
“You can’t smother one another,” Lillian advises and Don agrees. “You have to let each one grow and have his own space. At the same time, you must think in the plural rather than singular – it’s we, and not I.”
They’ve been lucky, they think, because both agree that in the past 60 years, each has been the other’s soul mate, friend, sounding board and extension of self. “I was prom queen in college and he was my prince,” Lillian said, adding with a smile, “and he still is.”
CANDY AND TOM VETH
Candy Veth of Atlantic Highlands says when a friend set her up on a blind date with a Middletown guy just discharged from the Navy, she was uncertain. But when Tom Veth politely called her on the phone making the initial contact and offered to pick her up for their first date at Monmouth Mall, she accepted. “I wasn’t thinking of marriage, just a date,” Candy recalls. “But when I saw him walking up the walk to our house in Middletown, I knew that was who I would marry for life!”
Candy and Tom Veth recently celebrated 44 years of wedded bliss. The two Middletown natives never met before that blind date, although Candy, a few years younger than Tom, had heard of some of his brothers – the Veths were a big family in the Middletown area – when they were students at Middletown High School. Residents of Atlantic Highlands for 41 years, the couple have three daughters, two granddaughters and are expecting a third grandchild in May.
For Candy, the most difficult part of marriage was “learning to be independent and having a life of my own,” because of Tom’s erratic and long office hours, first as an auditor working for others, then as a successful CPA with his own office. “I had to forge a life to fill the days and nights when he’s at work,” she said, “and so far, I’ve traveled to five continents with my girlfriends.”
The best part of marriage, she said is “having someone to tell your problems to, and knowing, even if he isn’t warm and fuzzy or outwardly romantic and sentimental, he’s always there to right the wrong.”
Advice for someone getting married today? “Roll with the punches, don’t be afraid of change, stay open to it, take it day by day – it’s worth the effort.”
Tom agrees, and heads back to his busy tax season customers.
CAROL AND JIM QUIRK
Laughter. Yes, laughter is vital to keep a marriage happy, these decades of experience have shown. And 52 years after they got married, Carol and Jim Quirk of Rumson continue to laugh and enjoy life with enthusiasm. Both graduates of Long Branch High School before going on to higher education, they met, dated, not seriously, but always keeping in touch. It was after Jim served as a commissioned officer in the Army and was discharged in 1965, and Carol was teaching, that Jim said he had “saved up $200, let’s get married!”
They waited, even though they were sure, but both had things they wanted to accomplish first. Jim’s professions, both with Chase Manhattan Bank and as an NFL referee, meant a lot of travel for him, enough that they joke today: “In 50 years of marriage, we’ve probably only been together 35!”
“You do what you can to make it work,” Carol advises, “but having a sense of humor and mutual respect are essential. Just don’t try changing your partner – it will never happen!”
If there were hurdles, there was never anything serious since they worked together to resolve them, and nothing was insurmountable. The Quirks are parents of two sons and a daughter, and are just home from welcoming the birth of their sixth grandchild – the first grandson – in California. “We’re not the only ones among our friends married this long,” she said. “It just seems that our generation made these commitments and worked through the problems because it was important to stay together.”
This article was first published in the “I Do” wedding section of the Feb. 15-22, 2018 print edition of The Two River Times.
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