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Carillon of Indian Trail Couple Celebrates 70 Years of Marriage

When it comes to stories tied to Valentine’s Day, few are sweeter than the romance of Joe and Vivian Stanley, both residents of Carillon Assisted Living of Indian Trail. February 14th arrived less than a month after their 70th anniversary, an occasion that symbolizes this couple’s lifelong love and affection for each other.

“I’m very fortunate to have been married to the same girl for 70 years,” says Joe. “I attribute the success of our marriage to the fact that I picked the right girl to start with.”

“She’s been a superb wife, mother, a good cook, a good pianist, and a good church organist. And a good dancer. You’ve heard of jitterbugging? We were good at it. We used to get on the floor to dance, and every so often, people would get off the floor and leave it to us.”

Their first meeting features a storybook quality. While in high school in Norfolk, Virginia, Joe landed a job as a cashier at one of the first self-service food stores in the Naval-oriented city.

Stanleys holding heart

Smitten with this older boy, Vivian used to show up on Saturdays or during the week after school to buy odds and ends—mainly so she go through Joe’s checkout line. Though she knew his name because of his employee name badge, Joe never learned hers.

Then came high school graduation and Joe’s enlistment in the U.S. Marines. He fought with the Allied forces in the Pacific during World War II for three years. One afternoon after returning, Joe was with a friend in downtown Norfolk when he saw an attractive young woman.

“Buck, I believe that’s the young lady who used to come into my store,” he said. “I’m going across the street to see if she remembers me.”

Quickly crossing the street, he walked up, looked into her eyes, and asked if she remembered him. Showing her playful sense of humor, Vivian shook her head. Joe’s heart broke—until she admitted she was kidding.

“Your name is Joe,” she said. That prompted a flurry of questions from Joe: Are you married? Are you dating? Are you in love with anyone?

When Vivian said she was open to dating the right person, he asked, “Would you consider me? I love my country. Would you give me your name and phone number?”

An emergency scuttled their plans for their first date, though. Joe had dislocated his shoulders in a high school basketball game; when they suddenly popped out of place again he had to go to the hospital. Concerned his date might think he was making up a story, Joe asked his sister (a registered nurse) to call Vivian and explain what had happened.

The intercession worked. Not only did they later go out, Joe attended Vivian’s high school graduation ceremony and presented her with her high school ring.

“I think after several dates I knew she was ‘the one,’” Joe says. “I got a chance to know her and see that she was a good, honest, respectable person. That had a lot to do with my decision to let her know I was serious.”

After completing his college degree at Rutgers University, the couple were married on January 18, 1949. After working some entry-level jobs, Joe became a commercial banker and logged 35 years in that field before retiring. Vivian worked for the telephone company for awhile and later at the Naval base in Norfolk, where she helped sailors after they came in from the sea.

The Stanleys have two sons and a flock of grandchildren. Since they lived near the ocean and Chesapeake Bay, their favorite family vacations consisted of trips to the mountains, especially one amusement park in North Carolina featuring risky and fun rides.

Stanley's Kissing

“This couple is definitely a testament to love,” says Michelle Marciniak, Executive Director of the Indian Trail community. “They are very kind toward one another, and they never tire of telling people how they met or how long they’ve been together. The other residents find them both inspirational.”

“We enjoyed ourselves together,” Joe says. “We had mutual respect for each other. We didn’t need to do a lot to make each other happy. Each day began with happiness and ended with happiness. The most positive thing about our lives is we’ve been married for 70 years and would do it all over again.”

That’s love.

Posted in Resident Stories, Sage Stories on February 14, 2019

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