- Oops!Something went wrong.Please try again later.
BLUEWATER BAY — Before exploring much of the world together, Joe and Marti Shearer met in church in 1950 and were married the following year.
On Dec. 2, the couple will celebrate their 70th wedding anniversary with a quiet dinner, followed on Dec. 4 by a celebration at their church with friends and family.
“Our spiritual foundation has been crucial throughout our marriage,” Joe said recently while seated next to his wife at the American House senior living community in Bluewater Bay, where they have lived for almost two years. “Jesus is the center of our household. We pray together and stay together.”
Marti reached over to hold Joe’s hand, tenderly symbolizing their enduring bond.
She is 87. He is 90.
“We can’t believe God has allowed us to live this long and have each other,” Marti said while she and her husband smiled serenely.
Joe, who is an Air Force and Vietnam War veteran, hails from Washington state. Marti, who was born in Alabama, grew up in Panama City.
The couple met when Joe was stationed at Tyndall Air Force Base.
“He was in church choir practice, and he can’t sing at all,” Marti said with a laugh. “Later, I saw him in the park. He smiled at me.”
The couple’s first date was at a skating rink that they loved to visit in the historic St. Andrews area of Panama City. Joe recalled being dazzled by the famous white sand on local beaches — and by Marti.
“I told everyone that she poured sand in my shoes and I couldn’t go home,” he said.
As part of a double wedding with friends, Joe and Marti were married on Dec. 2, 1951, at Emanuel Baptist Church in Panama City.
During Joe’s 27 years of military service, the couple lived in 14 states. Joe has been to each state and Marti has been to all of them except Alaska. They lived in Valparaiso for several decades before moving to American House.
Their daughter, Debbie Wagoner of Fort Walton Beach, recalled going to 18 schools in 12 years.
Joe and Marti said one of their favorite Air Force assignments was Germany, for its scenery and proximity to several other beautiful countries. Marti, who Joe said “cannot be beat” in singing and cooking, sang during services in various European churches, including a solo performance in Prague.
Marti said she loves to sing gospel songs, mostly. One of her favorites is “He Touched Me.”
Joe praised her ability to sing the soprano, alto and tenor vocal ranges, while Marti said her husband “is the most talented man I’ve ever met.”
For example, Joe used to have a workshop where he made 30 model airplanes that he enjoyed flying with other members of the Eglin Aero Modellersclub.
Joe and Marti each was an only child in their families. In addition to Debbie, they have another daughter, Terri Barber, who lives in Lake City. Joe and Marti’s son, Larry, died at age 4 from a brain tumor in 1960.
The couple has seven grandchildren, 11 great-grandchildren and five great-great-grandkids.
In January, the couple plan to move to Lake City to be closer to more family members. They said they will miss their 11-year tradition of sharing Friday dinners with Debbie and her husband, Bryant, as well as the many friends they’ve met in the local area.
Looking back at the many societal changes that have occurred during their long marriage, Joe and Marti said advancements in technology have been very challenging to keep up with. For example, Joe said it’s been tough keeping track of all of his passwords for various websites.
“But you can Facetime with family now,” Bryant told his father-in-law recently at American House, where Joe nodded in agreement.
Joe and Marti emphasized that their faith has seen them through many trials, including the loss of their son and serious health troubles.
“Jesus Christ made the difference during the hard times,” Joe said. “If it wasn’t for our strong faith, we wouldn’t have made it.”
Marti then noted another key to the couple’s long relationship.
“We always hold hands,” she said.
Joe and Marti’s anniversary party with family and friends will be from 1-4 p.m. Dec. 4 at The Church on Bayshore (formerly the First Baptist Church of Niceville), 622 Bayshore Drive.
Folks are invited to drop in any time during the celebration. But the family asks that no gifts be given, as Joe and Marti feel their loved ones’ presence and blessings are enough.
This article originally appeared on Northwest Florida Daily News: Florida couple to celebrate 70th wedding anniversary