Renewal Of Marriage, Renewal Of Love

After A Quick Ceremony 35 Yearsago, Couple Enjoys 'The Works'

April 19, 1992|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,Staff writer

SILVER RUN — Ray Spicer, looking formal in a black tuxedo, paced nervously in front of St. Mary's United Church of Christ.

Inside the building, hissons and grandsons escorted about 150 guests to their seats as a soloist sang "The Wedding Song."

His daughters and granddaughters, dressed in hot-pink gowns, resembled a row of brilliant spring flowers as they lined up in the vestibule.

"Grandmom can't get married," said Amber Prager, 4, as she waited in a line with her cousins and aunts. "She's already married."

As the organist played the "Bridal Chorus," Spicer and his best man walked onto the altar. He stood beaming proudly as Ruth, his wife of 35 years, walked down the aisle in a shimmering white lace gown andveil.

Ruth's mother, Dorothy Loetz, also smiled as her husband, Donald, escorted their daughter to the altar.

Surrounded by friendsand four generations of their family -- from age 1 to 90 -- the couple exchanged new rings and reaffirmed their love before the Rev. Julian Hall.

At last, the Spicers had the wedding of their dreams -- 35 years, seven children and eight grandchildren after the original ceremony.

No detail went undone as the couple planned their big day.

"I couldn't get her father to pay for it, though," Ray quipped.

Florist, photographer, organist, stretch limousine, caterer and Caribbean honeymoon -- they wanted the works.

"I planned several of my children's weddings, so I knew what had to be done," Ruth said.

The April 11 wedding was quite a change from the quick "Let's get married" decision made by two teen-agers, who met at a church social in 1957.

They easily recount the details of that first meeting, when an embarrassed 16-year-old girl spilled her soda and a 19-year-old young man came to her rescue and helped clean up the spill.

"Something just clicked and he asked me for a date," said Ruth. "We fell in love but the Army got in the way and Ray had to report to Georgia."

Unable to bear the separation, Ruth made plans to follow. Dorothy Loetz reluctantly helped her daughter pack for the elopement. She and Ray's mother, Jean, took Ruth to the train station.

"I was the onlydaughter and my mother always wanted me to have a big wedding," saidRuth. "She was so disappointed. She was one of the reasons why we decided to do this all over again."

The trip south was a little intimidating for a girl who "had never been on a train or anywhere else before," said Ruth.

Ray was waiting at the train station. Ruth saidhe's been waiting for her ever since.

"I have to wait," he said with a smile. "She is always late."

"He's a very patient man," Ruthsaid.

He had planned a simple ceremony -- "to say the least," said his wife.

Two Army buddies served as witnesses for the young couple. Ray wore his service uniform and Ruth wore a mint-green dress.

A woman named Flossie, who was standing in for the elderly judge, hastily led them through a terse recitation of their vows and then pronounced them man and wife.

As soon as the couple left the courthouse, Ruth phoned home to Baltimore to assure her parents she was a married woman.

"My parents told me to get married as soon as I got down there," she said, adding she wouldn't dream of disobeying them.

They began their married life on $110 a month.

"We didn't have a big wedding, but we have had a 35-year honeymoon," said Ray.

"I still get goose bumps every morning when he tells me I'm beautiful," Ruth said.

They managed to buy a 1950 Chevy, but couldn't drive it until they scraped together money for tags and gas. Their first baby was born 10 months after the wedding. Six more children followed in the next nine years.

"We didn't have a TV," Ray said.

He said their early struggles strengthened their marriage.

"We had to grow upwith each other," said Ray. "We didn't know anyone, had little or nomoney and nobody to run home to -- at least not in the same state."

"Somebody has to give in, too," she said. "We have learned to compromise."

The Spicers returned to Baltimore after Ray's discharge. Eventually, he began an office machine business from home and Ruth became his right-hand assistant. They moved the company, SJL Office Products, to Carroll in 1976. The business now employs 19 people, including five Spicer children.

"Ray has always set a goal and worked hard until he got it," she said.

They started thinking about a second wedding about 18 months ago.

"We have been married forever," he said. "We raised each other, took care of each other and have done everything together. We wanted to celebrate."

The first considered waiting until their 50th, but number 35 was closer.

"We decided to celebrate, while everyone, including all four of our parents, are still here. And, while we still have good health."

Invitations went across the county and the country. They even tried unsuccessfully to locate their original attendants.

"Almost everyone we invited came,some from fairly far away," she said, of the guest list that reachedabout 200.

The children got into the spirit of the planning and celebration too. The girls surprised Ruth with a bridal shower, givingher a "closetful" of lingerie. Their youngest daughter, Yvonne, wrote a poem for the ceremony. "Thank you for showing me how to love," itbegan.

The pastor called the renewal of the Spicers' vows a "powerful statement to the world about the power of love and family."

As Ray walked back down the aisle, his arm encircling his bride, he whispered softly in her ear and she smiled.

"We'll probably do this again in another 35 years," he said. "Even if we have to use rocking chairs."

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