It’s been a week of milestones for one Youville Home couple, as they celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary last Saturday and the husband’s 95th birthday today.
Marie and Jack Coventry were married Jan. 20, 1945. He was an airman from New Zealand who was stationed in Vulcan, training for the Second World War. They met at a house party one weekend when Jack was in Edmonton.
“A party I never wanted to go to,” laughs Marie, 89. “I wasn’t keen on going because there were lots of men I’d have to worry about.”
Jack ended up walking Marie home. Six months later they got married while he was on weekend leave.
“Marie was so easy to talk to. She made you feel comfortable and that’s really all there was to it,” said Jack, 95.
Marie is not quite sure what the attraction was for her.
“I had lots of boyfriends. I didn’t have to worry about anything like that,” she joked.
Jack was stationed in England for further training but didn’t see active duty. The couple later spent three years in New Zealand before settling for good in Edmonton, where Jack worked in accounting and credit management. They had six children, two of whom were mentally handicapped.
“We had to make our own way through life. We never had any handouts,” Jack said.
“We’ve had our ups and downs but that’s the way life should be,” said Marie.
Marie is the social one, known in the family for making candid wedding speeches, while Jack is more reserved, said their oldest daughter Diane Normand.
The couple spent little time apart over the years. They were always good at discussing their decisions and were very self-reliant, Normand said.
Marie has joked that the key to the longevity of their marriage was being poor and having six kids, Normand said. Jack’s view is that successful people accept things and move on.
“I think they’re great models for the family, a good example, to survive that long,” Normand said.
Back in 1982, the couple were able to do something that few do, which is survive the tragic death of a child. Their son Paul, who was mentally handicapped, was killed at 32 while trying to cross a busy street.
“It was on the Yellowhead before they had lighting on it. He was trying to cross and he got confused by the lights of oncoming cars. One of them hit him,” Jack said.
“I know the dress I wore when he was buried. I never wore it again,” Marie said.
“We had to accept it and get over it,” said Jack.
Health-wise, Marie is on oxygen and confined to a wheelchair while Jack is in remission from bladder cancer two years ago. He’s still fully mobile.
The couple says they’ve had a really good marriage mainly because they’ve always considered each other’s thoughts and feelings.
“We don’t fight too much,” Marie grinned, “just once in a while.”