When Jack Joyce proposed marriage to Rosemary on a porch swing in 1945, she said she’d think about it. Over the course of their two-year courtship, the couple had seen each other only four times. This June, they will celebrate their 62nd wedding anniversary, and needless to say, they’re seeing much more of each other these days.
The two met at a United Service Organizations dance in Indianapolis. Jack was in the Navy at the time, and Rosemary belonged to an area Catholic Women’s Association. Among the guests were soldiers, sailors, and women from local parishes. Spotting one particular sailor, Rosemary asked Jack to dance.
“I made the first move, and it worked,” Rosemary said.
Jack and Rosemary now live in the Arborwood building of the Altenheim Retirement Community. Gayle Fahey, who has managed the Altenheim for four years, praised the couple for their amiability.
“They’re just always so pleasant,” Fahey said. “They seem to get along really well, and they’re both really nice people.”
Following the dance, Jack was sent off to Connecticut. It was then the couple began their two-year correspondence through letters, which is how they really got to know one another. Rosemary wrote to Jack everyday; to Jack, mail was the best part of being in the service.
“I’d go to port and find a pile of letters from Rosemary,” Jack said.
When Jack was given leave, he and Rosemary found some time to meet.
“I bet we had less dates than anybody else,” Rosemary said.
After their marriage in 1945, Jack was shipped off to the West Coast. The Navy had planned to send him to Japan for the Pacific War, but, he joked, when the Japanese heard he was coming, they gave up. He stayed in the U.S.
With trust, a little humor, and a close familial bond, Jack and Rosemary believe that any marriage can last as long as theirs.
“The closeness of siblings is very important to keeping a marriage together. Our kids are great,” Jack said. “And if you have a disagreement with your spouse, talk things out. Don’t go into a deep silence.”
Statistically, the U.S. has one of the highest divorce rates on the planet. According to a federal state-by-state study, Illinois saw roughly 5,100 marriages in December of 2005. That same month, more than 2,500 couples got divorced.
For Rosemary, it’s the smaller things in life that keep a marriage alive.
“We celebrate the happy times,” she said. “Every birthday and every holiday we celebrate as a family.”
The couple has 16 grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.
For Valentine’s Day, the couple likes to keep it simple. Jack, who worked for a wholesale florist for 40 years, usually brings Rosemary a bouquet of flowers and some chocolates.
Second to Mother’s Day, Valentine’s Day is the single busiest day for Quitsch Florist, located on Madison Street. While roses are the most popular, business owner Dixie Paugh has noted that more men are buying mixed cuts and spring flowers.
“I like any kind of flowers,” Rosemary said. “I don’t care. It’s the remembrance that’s important.”