They met as kids, walking to Riverside Public School in Elmira – Marie Simmons, the daughter of J.R. Simmons, a doctor in town, and Lorne Weppler, whose family ran the Selrite store on Arthur Street for the better part of three decades.
“I remember she would be sitting on her steps,” Lorne recalled, staring lovingly across the table at his wife. “I might’ve been in kindergarten then. But I remember, she would smile at me as a walked by.”
Lorne lived on Erb Street, Marie on Mill.
Just a couple months apart in age, the pair were in separate grades due to the old school year cutoff mark in June. But they ran in the same circles, especially during their teen years at the newly opened Elmira District Secondary School.
After a stint in the military during the Second World War for Lorne – first in the air force, followed by the army – and schooling for Marie in Toronto, the pair reunited in their hometown and wed in September 1950.
This past weekend, the Wepplers, now living at the Chartwell Retirement Residence in Elmira, celebrated their 65th anniversary with family and friends.
And they shared a few tips on how to maintain a happy, healthy marriage.
“We always kept busy,” Lorne explained in the retirement home’s dining room. “Being able to compromise, that’s also real important.”
With five children – Susan, Anne, Margaret, Roger and Richard – born between 1952 and 1960, the couple was certainly on their toes. Marie worked as a nurse while Lorne worked at the family business, later moving into sales.
There were ups and downs, like any marriage, and finances were tight. But the Wepplers always had a loving home, Susan said.
“Something I got from my parents and that I really valued, is that I always felt that they were interested in what we wanted to do and they were supportive. So, I went to Toronto to go to York University, initially. And one time my phone was disconnected for some reason, and I was in fine arts in dance, and I was down at dance class and the door opens and there’s my mother looking in. They were concerned that they couldn’t get ahold of me because my phone had been disconnected, so they came all the way down to Toronto to see if I was okay. So they were always very supportive, wherever the kids went, they would help us move, and they were always there for us.”
The couple lived in their Elmira home up until 2012 when Marie suffered a fall and moved into the long-term care wing of the residence. Shortly thereafter, Lorne moved into the retirement side.
These days, the Wepplers enjoy spending time together outside, watching the cars and the horse-drawn buggies along Church Street.
“She has been the most wonderful wife a man could have,” Lorne said. “She is a wonderful person and she looked after me well.”