A whole lot of things have changed since 1947, but one thing hasn’t: Josephine and James Marchi are still together.
Josephine, 94, and James, 96, will celebrate their 72nd wedding anniversary Friday. Theirs is possibly the longest current marriage in New Hampshire, according to Worldwide Marriage Encounter.
Worldwide Marriage Encounter receives nominations for those with the longest marriages across the country annually, with one couple recognized for each state and one for the entire country, according to a statement from the organization. Others recognized this year include former president and first lady Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter in Georgia, for their 72-year marriage.
The Marchis celebrated their anniversary in advance Sunday, surrounded by more than a dozen friends and family at the New Hampshire Veterans Home in Tilton, N.H. A room in the home was transformed to simultaneously celebrate their special day and Father’s Day, featuring records that they used to listen to in the 1960s and 1970s scattered across the room.
“It’s an awesome thing to see,” their son Kirby Marchi, 62, said of their marriage.
Jo, originally from Ashland, N.H., and Jim, originally from Burlington, Mass., met in September 1946 when Jim moved to his sister’s house in Ashland following his service in World War II, Kirby said. Right after, Jo went to an internship at a nursing home in the White Mountains, where the pair had little communication. “They had so little contact; it’s unbelievable how they kept it going,” Kirby said.
Jo went back home to Ashland to take care of her father the following April, and the two married in June 1947, nine months after meeting. The couple raised Kirby and his older brother in Franklin, N.H. Jim was involved in the community and was a volunteer firefighter and police officer, as well as a grand knight at the local Knights of Columbus council, Kirby said, while Jo was a stay-at-home mom.
When Jim retired, the pair traveled the country, driving coast to coast because of Jo’s fear of flying, Kirby said. Jim’s health eventually declined, and he could no longer live with Jo in the home where they raised their children, Kirby said. Jim, who landed in France three days after D-Day, is now a permanent resident at the Veterans Home to get the care he needs, Kirby said. Jo still lives in their home in Franklin.
“It’s interesting because, being old, you wouldn’t think they would be able to cope with change, or I wouldn’t think they would be able to,” Kirby said. “Even though it hurts her and everything, and they live apart, and they’ve been married for almost 72 years, it’s still the same relationship.”
And while their plans to renew their vows at the celebration didn’t ultimately work out, Kirby said, their relationship is just as strong.
“It’s a very loving relationship,” he said. “It’s kind of like I don’t know any other way, with them and how they are.”