Last Saturday, James and Zelma (Tichenor) Barnes renewed their wedding vows after 70 years.
According to Activities Associate Alli Hountz, the Barnes’ had been neighbors since they were young children.
While James Barnes was in basic training for the Navy during World War Two, he sent Zelma a letter asking her to marry him. Zelma accepted, and while James was home from the military for two days, the couple wed.
The next day, James was stationed on board the USS South Dakota, which would eventually shoot down 32 Japanese planes during Pearl Harbor.
The couple never had a honeymoon or a traditional wedding ceremony. Aspen Place surprised the pair by announcing they’d finally have a proper celebration of their long-lasting love and marriage.
“Zelma was just beside herself because she never got to have a nice wedding,” said Houtz.
“You have been through wars and rumors of wars,” said the Barnes’ grandson, pastor John Porter of the Community Church of Greensburg, who officated.
The couple quietly shed tears, their love reaffirmed, as the pastor spoke before an assembly of family, friends and other Aspen Place residents.
Trilogy, Aspen Place’s main office, allows its retirement homes to stage one large event every year as part of the “Live a Dream” program, which grants resident wishes.
“They didn’t ask for it,” said Houtz, “but as everyone got to know them and talked to them about their lives, we decided we wanted to really do this for them.”
While there may be no great secret for staying together for so long, Houtz had this to say about the couple Aspen Place has come to know and love: “They’re just one of those rare couples; it’s like they’re a young couple that’s dating. That’s the way they are with each other.”
Aspen Place went to local businesses to help stock the wedding, including Circle Printing, which provided invitations, A Piece of Cake, which donated a wedding cake, Houtz Concrete, which donated money for decorations, Expression Florists and Gifts, which donated flowers, Goodies, which offered a discount on James’ tuxedo, and the Aspen Place staff, who donated various odds and ends. Mike Reverman, director of plant operations, did the photography and video.
Contact: Tess Rowing 812-663-3111 x7004