Live Vibrantly - February 16, 2020
by Kathie Miller
For Valentine’s Day this year, residents and staff at Goodwin House Bailey’s Crossroads shared some something truly special. They came together to walk down memory lane, a lane decorated with wedding photos and dresses. And they came to realize the love stories and advice never grow old.
Cultural Arts and Events Manager Elizabeth Whitehouse, a relative newlywed herself, drew inspiration from activities she enjoyed at bridal showers. She reached out to residents and asked if they’d be willing to share their wedding dresses for a special display on for Valentine’s Day.
“I wanted to engage residents in a different way this year,” Whitehouse shared. “Sometimes, holidays like this can be difficult, especially for those of us who’ve lost our loved ones. I wanted to find a way to remind us all of the joys love can bring us.”
Without a doubt, Whitehouse achieved what she set out to do. She initially asked residents to share their wedding dresses, and some came forward to offer photos instead, so the dress display evolved into something more. Staff offered to contribute as well. Whitehouse managed to curate a collection of wedding memorabilia large enough to fill an entire gathering space in the community.
For several hours, the display remained in place, and anyone who passed by could find residents, staff and guests gathered around, sharing smiles. Here are some of the love stories and advice shared.
Edward “Ed” Mott married his wife Priscilla in 1958, at Christ Church in Alexandria, Virginia. High school sweethearts in Virginia Beach, Ed and Priscilla dated off and on for six years before Ed said he “very nervously” proposed to her. Ed’s father used to say that Ed “chased Priscilla until she caught him.” Their wedding was a small, and they honeymooned in Virginia Beach over a long weekend before Ed had to depart for orders from the United States Navy. They were married 61 years before Priscilla passed away in May 2019. Ed’s marriage advice – “try to be nice to your wife.”
Gloria Gibson married her husband John on August 8, 1952, in Seattle, Washington. Both students at the University of Washington, they met at a college mixer. Gloria said that John “pinned” her in college, which at the time symbolized a pre-engagement. After six years of dating, they married in a very traditional wedding, then headed to Gloria’s sorority house for cake, ice cream and punch. Gloria shared that there was no alcohol at their reception because it was not allowed at the sorority house. Gloria and John were married for 66 years before he passed away in July 2018. She said the biggest piece of marriage advice she has is “to be willing to compromise.”
Jane McKeel married her husband Wayne on July 31, 1960, in Fayetteville, Tennessee. That date was also her parent’s 31st wedding anniversary. Jane met Wayne through her high school English teacher. Working at the Fayetteville library at the time, the teacher often interacted with Wayne, who was an avid reader whose office just happened to be located in the same building as the town’s library. One day, the matchmaking librarian told Wayne she wanted to introduce him to a former student. Jane said her former teacher made the introductions then quietly slipped away as Jane and Wayne started to get to know each other. They dated for two years, became engaged and married a year later. Jane and Wayne were married nearly 48 years before he passed away. They both loved travel and lived on three continents during their marriage. Jane shared the following marriage advice – be honest with your spouse, check-in with each other every now and then, marry someone with similar interests, and always support your spouse, but give them space to have their own friends and career.
Carol Lewis married her husband Leroy Lewis in 1993, at their home in Vienna, Virginia, after nine years of dating. They met through mutual friends and worked near each other in downtown Washington, D.C. It was the second marriage for them both. During a trip to Virginia Beach with Leroy and her son, who was eleven at the time, Carol was out in the ocean swimming with Leroy. She told him how happy she was with their relationship and how it would make her son happy if she and Leroy got married—her son also loved Leroy very much. Leroy proposed and Carol said yes, and her son was thrilled. They had a simple wedding ceremony at home with the Vienna town clerk. After the ceremony, Carol’s mother watched Carol’s son so she and Leroy could “honeymoon” at their favorite Japanese restaurant in Vienna. Carol and Leroy were married for 22 years before he passed away. Carol shared the following marriage advice – it’s important to be friends with your spouse and share the same values.
Marietta met her husband through a love of opera. They both attended an event for opera enthusiasts in Washington, D.C. Ms. Tanner shared that the event was about Russian opera, and that her future husband was the only black man in the room. “I liked his profile,” she said. It took some work to get him to talk, but eventually, Marietta made a connection and they started dating. Several months into dating, Ms. Tanner spent some time in hospital, and he visited her regularly. That is when she knew he was a keeper. They were married in November, 2019 and plan to travel together to Kenya for safari in March. Marietta’s advice: When you see someone you like, go after him… that’s what I did!
This event was so special it gained the attention of local media. We invite you to enjoy this TV clip from local cable news channel WDVM and see Carol’s and Marietta’s dresses in the photos featured in this article.
As Corporate Director of Marketing & Communications, Kathie Miller provides strategic guidance and tactical support for all areas of Goodwin House. She writes, edits and manages The Good Life blog and newsletter. Kathie joined GHI in 2014 after nearly 15 years at NPR, where she honed her skills in brand and reputation management, content marketing and internal communications. Originally from Pennsylvania, Kathie has slowly come to realize she’s lived in Arlington for more than half her life and should call herself a Virginian. She enjoys the outdoors and brings her rescue dog, Remi, to work every day.