“Someone like you
makes the sun shine brighter.
Someone like you
makes a sigh half a smile.
Someone like you
makes my troubles much lighter.
Someone like you
makes life seem worthwhile.”
A poem, by writer James W. Foley, encapsulates the love and affection shared among seven local couples who each will celebrate 50 years of marriage this year.
It’s also a celebration of a lifetime of friendships that go back longer than those five decades.
In a special ceremony on the afternoon of June 14 in the James B. Branton Chapel on the campus of Brother Martin High School in New Orleans, DeeDee and Bob Burns, Beth and Johnny Kidder, Joy and Gary Morris, Julie and Leon Ricord, Patsy and Joe Rink, Juliette and Arthur Schellhaas, and Rosalind and Alan Seicshnaydre renewed their wedding vows in front of more than 100 people that included their children with their spouses, their grandchildren and some of their siblings.
Following the ceremony, which was presided over by Brother Louis Couvillion, a special reception was held at the Schellhaas home in Metairie.
“It certainly doesn’t feel as though all of us have been married 50 years,” Patsy Rink said. “We go back a lot of years together, all the way to our high school days and shortly thereafter. So renewing our 50th anniversary vows together was something all of us were very excited about and looked forward to celebrating.”
Four of the husbands — Arthur, Alan, Bob and Joe — first met as students at St. Aloysius High School, now Brother Martin, according to Juliette Schellhaas.
“The girls went to different high schools and we met one another through mutual friendships with Arthur, Alan, Bob and Joe,” Schellhaas said. “And then going to parties or school-related activities, we met everyone else. We all hit it off right away and I feel the closeness of our friendships all these years also helped our marriages and brought all of us closer.”
“We grew up together so naturally, we have shared a great deal such as the birth of our children and grandchildren, as well as the passing of other close friends and relatives,” added Julie Ricord, who is Juliette’s twin sister. “All of us are truly an extended family.”
Rosalind Seicshnaydre said it has been “common values and the importance of commitment” that have been important in keeping lifelong friendships and long marriages together.
“We go to dinner, we travel and we party together,” she said. “We are 14 different people, all of whom have different personalities, different likes and dislikes. But we accept one another for who they are and it all just works.”
Beth Kidder said she has had a hard time wrapping her head around 50 years of marriage and even more years of long friendships.
“I mean, I cannot believe it,” she said. “Where has the time gone? These are truly some very special people that I have in my life, from my husband and the rest of my family, as well as all these wonderful friends, most of whom I have known almost my entire life.”
Kidder likes to joke that she had dated all of their husbands, except for Art Schellhaas. “He was too crazy for me to date.”
Growing up, Joy Morris said she didn’t know “a person could live 50 years much less be married for that long.”
“When you are young, 50 years seems a very long time,” said Morris, whose brother is Leon Ricord. “But the time has really gone by so quickly. Gary and I have had a wonderful marriage and it’s been great to have this close friendship with everyone for all these years.”
DeeDee and Bob Burns said the support of their friends has meant a great deal to them both.
“We are always there to support one another no matter the circumstance,” DeeDee Burns said. “It’s really been wonderful to have such good friends and to have shared so much together.”
Bob Burns, an ad hoc judge in Orleans Parish, recalled the time when he first decided to run for a seat on the 24th Judicial District Court in Jefferson Parish.
“After high school and college, I went on to law school and I sort of lost touch with some of the men,” said Burns, who served on the bench in Jefferson Parish from 1978 to 1997.
“I was amazed at how we all reconnected when I decided to run for judge in Jefferson Parish. All of these guys and their wives were there for me, supporting me in any way they could.
“When I served in Jefferson Parish... it was great to have a group of people to spend your spare time with, to just be yourself and to talk about things other than the law.
“It was wonderful then and it still is wonderful now,” Burns said.