Gladys and Ken Verhoven are among couples renewing their marriage vows at Fleetwood Villa Retirement Residence in Surrey. (Photo: Gerry Kahrmann/Postmedia News)

Five couples renew marriage vows today at a Surrey retirement residence

Special day for people at Fleetwood Villa Retirement Residence

By Jennifer Saltman, Postmedia News

SURREY — When Ed Ervin talks about his wife Shirley, the look of adoration on his face is impossible to miss, even after 60 years of marriage.

“I have to say if ever there’s been a fantastic marriage, we have enjoyed it,” he said.

Key to the success of any marriage, he added, is maturity.

“I think a lot of marriages don’t last because people don’t really try and really get along, because there’s lots of ups and downs and problems in marriages,” Ed said. “Both sides have to bend — that’s what makes a marriage great.”

Ed said he honestly can’t remember a time when they fought. They had disagreements, but always worked through them.

“We work it out,” said Shirley. “We may not agree all the time but we work it out to be content. Never held a grudge, didn’t stop talking or anything like that. We just carried on with life.”

Ed and Shirley are one of five couples who will renew their vows at the Fleetwood Villa Retirement Residence in Surrey today (Friday, Aug. 11).

“I suppose it will bring back some memories of our first go-round,” Ed said. “I’m looking forward to it — it’s going to be a fun day.”

Ken and Gladys Verhoven met at a party in England in 1959, where they danced and played games together.

“He was stuck to me all the time so I knew, really, that he liked me,” Gladys said.

“It was going the other way,” Ken piped up.

“Vice versa, that’s a little joke,” said Gladys.

The two have shared a lot of laughs over their 57 years of marriage. They’ve also raised three children and travelled a lot, taking about 25 cruises.

Jokes aside, Ken and Gladys agree that being kind and taking care of one another go a long way in a relationship. Ken said Gladys looked after him and Gladys described Ken as a good provider.

“We try to be good to each other,” said Ken. “When we have a problem, we deal with it quick.”

Sheila and Henry Rathler met when Henry gave Sheila and her friends a ride to and from their church band’s barbecue. Sheila’s friend made her ride in the front seat with Henry and they hit it off.

“They set me up,” Sheila said, laughing. “We got along together.”

At the end of the month, they’ll be celebrating their 59th wedding anniversary. They have five children, 10 grandchildren and seven great grandchildren.

Sheila said two factors in their long marriage are their involvement in the church and the support they’ve had from their families.

“If there was anything wrong we always had someone to go to,” she said. “Having support is important. You’ve got somebody else to talk to if you have a problem, so you’re not holding in a grudge.”

It’s been a difficult year for the Rathlers — Henry suffered a stroke in January — and Sheila said she’s looking forward to the vow renewal as a chance to get away from their day-to-day routines.

“I think it’ll be a good way of being reminded what was in our vows,” Sheila said. “I think it’ll be fun, too, and it’s something we can do together.”

Bill and Janet Von Siemens, who have been married 30 years, and Wilf and Nori Labrecque, who will celebrate their 60th anniversary on Aug. 28, will also renew their vows.

A couple of months ago, Allan O’Meara, the residence’s director of recreation, had what he calls a “crazy” idea to do a wedding-style vow renewal for one couple living at the residence. He asked around and four other couples decided they’d like to renew their vows as well. There are 170 people living at the residence, and nine couples.

“I thought it was going be small,” he said. “It’s gone from a little thought in my mind to exploding to be quite the event.”

There will be a full wedding ceremony led by a pastor, toasts, a cake and a reception with live music. The residence’s management team will be groomsmen and bridesmaids, and the ring bearer and flower girl are children of one of the employees. Family members have been invited.

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