2 couples who were `meant to be together'

The Stepps and the Murkeys show that true love does not grow old and renew their vows in a rose ceremony at the North Carroll Senior Center

February 25, 2007|By Ellie Baublitz | Ellie Baublitz,[Sun Reporter]

Linda and David Stepp of Manchester believe some things are just meant to be -- like their marriage of 45 years.

"We're both residents of Manchester. We grew up in the same house, but at different times. And we were both hired by Black & Decker in the same month on the same day, but [in] different years," said Linda Stepp, 63.

"I really think we were meant to be together when you think of all the coincidences," she said.

David Stepp joked that he would sit in front of her house in a 1958 Chevy. Finally, she worked up the courage to ask him to take her to the senior prom -- "the hardest thing I ever did," she said.

"Then we dated for eight months and got married," said David Stepp, 65. "We've always got along very easily -- we could talk to each other."

The Stepps, who had no children and are both retired, enjoy being together. They stay active by playing tennis and golf, walking, biking and other sports, and going to the North Carroll Senior and Community Center.

After celebrating their 45th anniversary on Jan. 20, they renewed their vows Tuesday at the senior center in a simple rose ceremony conducted by center manager, Renee Deiaco.

The renewal ceremony was supposed to have been held Feb. 13, in time for Valentine's Day, but Mother Nature decided differently. However, Deiaco was determined to go on with the ceremony, despite having only two couples, rather than the four or more originally scheduled.

Along with the Stepps, Betty and Lee Murkey, also of Manchester, renewed their vows after celebrating their 48th anniversary Jan. 24.

Deiaco said she searched the Internet for the ceremony she wrote, which included husbands and wives pledging their love to each other, exchanging a red silk rose and kissing under an arch covered in white netting and red silk roses.

Deiaco also handed out red silk roses to everybody at the senior center that day. At the end of the wedding vows renewal, she encouraged all the seniors to exchange their rose with somebody else as a token of love.

"The love we are celebrating today can be true for any close, long-lasting relationship, whether it be between husband and wife or between friends," Deiaco said as she began the ceremony.

"A wedding is a celebration of falling in love and a beginning of a marriage," Deiaco continued. "A renewal of vows is a celebration of staying in love and staying married."

The husbands and wives repeated to each other, "Just as our wedding day I promised you my love, so today I renew that promise to be your [husband / wife] today, and for all the days to come."

When both couples kissed after Deiaco's traditional prompting, the room full of seniors applauded.

The couples then exchanged their roses, which Deiaco described as the symbol of love and another way of saying "I love you." When she made them say, "I love you" to each other, the Stepps kissed again.

Deiaco also encouraged them to find a place in their home to put a red rose whenever they are in need, hurting, or can't find the words to say in times of trouble, as a reminder of their love.

Deiaco also offered this advice: Let your love be stronger than your anger, learn the wisdom of compromise, believe the best of your partner, confide in your partner, be friends, be courteous and kind to your spouse, and say "I love you" every day.

The Murkeys already seem to be following the rules. When introducing themselves, Betty Murkey, 68, said that while the couple "has had ups and downs, we just try to make the other person happy. We try to be kind to each other, and we're patient with each other."

They also try to be understanding, added Lee Murkey, 69.

The couple, originally from Baltimore, met in Sunday school and started dating when she was 15. They maintained a Christian home while raising their family, Betty Murkey said.

The Murkeys moved to Manchester two years ago to be closer to two of their three children. They have six grandchildren.

The Murkeys are retired -- she was a bank teller, and he was a car salesman -- and they come to the senior center several times a week to exercise and socialize.

"We each have our own little hobbies to fall back on," said Betty Murkey. "Sometimes you can go your own separate ways."

They also like to travel.

"We like to take a lot of small vacations -- getaways," she said. "It refreshes you."

ellie.baublitz@baltsun.com

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