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Local couple reaches rare milestone

By Staff | Feb 1, 2016

The impending snow storm of the century Friday didn’t dampen the spirits of Shepherdstown SAIL (Shepherdstown Area Independent Living) party-goers who were gathered to celebrate the 70th wedding anniversary of Sherman and Elinor Ross.

Seventy years is a long time to be married. Only one tenth of one percent of marriages reach a 70-year anniversary. Seventy years ago, in 1946, a gallon of gas in the United States was 15 cents, the average annual salary was $2,500 and President Truman instituted the Central Intelligence Group, (precursor to the CIA). Seventy years ago, the bikini debuted in Paris, Tupperware was introduced to consumers and Sherman and Elinor Ross tied the knot on January 22.

SAIL, a group who gathers at least monthly, dedicated their gathering to the celebration of the Ross’ anniversary. Both Sherman and Elinor are members of the spunky senior group.

After lunch and cake, Elinor, who is a gifted storyteller, had the audience doubled over with laughter as she recounted tales of her wedding and reception in her hometown of Meridian, Mississippi. She shared memories of secretly spiked wedding punch and pranks her friends played on her wedding night. Upon arriving at their hotel, they found the windows wide open, curtains taken down, the bed short-sheeted and missing it’s slats for support.

“The moral of the story,” Elinor quipped, “is not to get married in a small town where everyone knows each other.”

Elinor went on to reminisce about their life together. Sherman received the GI Bill after the war and he and Elinor began their married life attending Yale University where they met George H.W. Bush, also attending Yale, and his wife, Barbara. (The senior Bush couple are notably celebrating their own milestone with a 71st anniversary this year.) Sherman went on to be a dedicated and passionate teacher for many years before working as a diplomat for U.S. Government. They have lived all over the world, from California to Cameroon; Big Branch, West Virginia, Belgium, Algiers and Pakistan, weaving a life of learning, experiences, and love and finally settling here in Shepherdstown, where they are surrounded by loving friends and family.

A party isn’t a party without music. Karaoke Bob provided tunes for a singalong with toe-tapping favorites and sentimental ballads from the likes of Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby, The Andrews Sisters and others that were popular at that time. One of the songs was “Sentimental Journey”, which was the name of Sherman’s B-17 Flying Fortress bomber in WWII, and has always been a special song for the couple. Guests had a good time singing and reflecting on memories of their own during the familiar refrains.

Like all couples, Sherman and Elinor have had their ups and downs, triumphs and tragedies. When asked what the secret is to such a long and successful marriage, Elinor replied, “When we got married, we were living in a time when divorce wasn’t ever thought of. We’ve had a great life together with many opportunities. The GI Bill was one of the greatest things that ever happened for us because it allowed for an education that has led to so many wonderful things and experiences for us to share.” Elinor paused, “The secret could also be that Sherman was traveling a lot,” she said with a laugh.

“We’ve been very active all our lives,” she said. “Sherman volunteered with Fish and Wildlife, spent many years with the Men’s Club, and we both volunteered with Meals on Wheels for 15 years. All those things bring couples closer together.”

Several in the audience were misty-eyed as Elinor delivered her closing words, “A few months ago I was shopping at the little shop next to the Lost Dog, and I found a box of Chicklets that expresses perfectly what I wanted to say: ‘Every day, I fall in love with you more and more,'” Elinor paused, choked up, then continued, “‘well, not everyday. Yesterday you were kind of annoying’.”

Ah, comic relief. Also key to a long marriage, it seems.

For more information about Shepherdstown SAIL, visit them online at www.sail.clubexpress.com, or contact by phone, 304-870-7245.