With the COVID-19 pandemic stretching into its eighth month, excessive togetherness is producing tension and other challenges between some married couples. But for Bob and Marie Tully of Winthrop, who celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary last month, each day spent alongside one another is a privilege not to be taken for granted.
“We’re blessed,” 89-year-old Bob said of his bride, 87. “When you get to where we are now, you understand there isn’t one single key to a long, happy marriage. It comes down to showing respect and appreciation every step of the way.”
Bob and Marie, who were both born and raised in Revere, met at Revere High School in 1949. Bob, a senior, was a member of the boys' glee club for which Marie, a sophomore, was the accompanist. After practice one afternoon, Bob asked to walk Marie to her homeroom. When she protested that hers was upstairs while his was on the first floor, he replied, “That’s all right.”
“That was the beginning,” Marie recalled.
While Marie finished high school, Bob was drafted and stationed in Germany during the Korean War. He was discharged from the Army in 1954, and the couple married the following year at Saint Anthony of Padua Church in Revere.
In 1956, Bob constructed their home on a lot of land adjacent to Marie’s parents' home in Revere. Around 1970, he built their summer cottage at Merrymeeting Lake in New Hampshire, where the family enjoyed some of its happiest memories. The couple moved to Winthrop in 2011.
While Bob is retired from New England Telephone, Marie was a liturgical organist at Saint Anthony of Padua Church and most recently Immaculate Conception Church in Revere, only pausing from performing at weddings and funeral Masses due to the COVID-19 health crisis.
In addition, both are lifelong communicants of Saint Anthony, where their three daughters — Anne DeFrancesco of Londonderry, N.H., Therese McLaughlin of Holliston, and Ellen Poveromo of Beverly — also were married. The Tullys have four grandchildren.
The sisters said their parents' example of deep faith and love of family has helped cement their own long-term marriages.
“You look at them and realize it’s supposed to be a long haul, with ups and downs and detours along the way,” said DeFrancesco, noting that she “never heard my parents speak harshly toward one another — which is also huge.”
Poveromo called her parents' marriage a “lesson in devotion.”
“They have different personalities, but they wouldn’t have it any other way — and they complement one another so well,” she said. “They truly love each other and want to take care of each other.”
Admittedly, this anniversary was different than previous milestones shared with family, such as celebrating their 50th aboard a Caribbean cruise and renewing their wedding vows to commemorate their 60th. This year, on Sept. 10, the couple enjoyed daylong deliveries, including an arrangement of blue hydrangea, Prosecco wine, and dinner, followed by a toast via Zoom video conference with their extended family.
“It’s all wonderful,” Marie Tully said. “It certainly doesn’t feel like it’s been 65 years.”
Cindy Cantrell may be reached at email@example.com.