75th Anniversary Celebration
Geneva and Everett Fuller celebrated their 75th wedding anniversary with friends and family at Bethany Point Health Campus by renewing their vows with new wedding bands.
Photo by John P. Cleary
'With this ring, I thee wed...'
From the Herald Bulletin Online
Friday, April 15, 2011
By April Abernathy
ANDERSON, Ind. —
Everett Fuller turned to Geneva, his wife of 75 years, and handed her a rose-colored bag of chocolates in honor of their anniversary.
The couple — he is 96, she is 94 — sat in the shared living room at Bethany Pointe Health Campus, where they have resided since October.
Between them was a wheeled utility cart covered by a tablecloth. The cart served as a makeshift altar to celebrate Tuesday’s special observance.
Near them, Bethany Pointe activity assistant Jenni Delong instructed Geneva, known affectionately as Gigi, to open the bag and prove that there were, in fact, chocolates inside.
“Make sure Everett didn’t eat them,” Delong joked.
Gigi gingerly opened the bag to find a blue box.
Inside the box was a wedding ring.
In turn, Everett was handed his own bag of chocolates. The scenario was repeated as he also discovered a wedding band.
The exchange capped 75 years of marriage for two lifelong Anderson residents who met on a blind date in the mid-1930s.
On Tuesday, they renewed their vows and found they could still surprise each other.
Going into the ceremony, Everett knew he was giving his Gigi a ring.
She knew she was giving one to him.
However, neither knew they would be receiving one from the other.
But a few days before the celebration, Delong had talked to the Fullers — separately.
“I asked Everett if he wanted me to go get flowers or something for Gigi for their anniversary,” Delong said. “He said to get her chocolates. I just laughed because I knew he’d be eating them.”
But then Delong asked Gigi the same question. The response was unexpected and sweet: “Gigi told me Everett had his ring cut off years ago during an injury,” she said.
Delong then gazed at Gigi’s hands.
“I looked down and said, ‘Gigi, where is your wedding band?’”
Gigi shrugged off the question, saying she lost two sets of rings when she worked in Anderson factories.
The proverbial light bulb clicked on. Delong ran to find activity director Penny Stevens to share Geneva’s story.
“I immediately contacted Bob Haverstick from Never Too Late,” Stevens said. “He said, ‘Purchase the rings. I’ll send the check now.’”
Never Too Late is a not-for-profit based in Indianapolis that grants wishes for seniors. Since 2000, the organization has averaged 220-240 wishes a year.
“I got a call from Penny ... ,” said Haverstick, founder of Never Too Late. “It was incredibly sweet.”
By 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday, almost 50 friends and family members gathered to watch the surprise ring exchange.
With both in wheelchairs, Everett was at the altar as Gigi was guided down the aisle by their youngest daughter, Connie Williams.
The couple sat face to face.
“I bet you never thought you would be walking your mom down the aisle,” Delong said. “I wish we had a room full of 20-somethings to show them what love and commitment looks like.”
Pastor Kent Stookey from Bethany Christian Church officiated the renewal vows.
“Now repeat after me, with this ring I thee wed,” he said. “I pray you’ll have another 75 years of marriage.”
Prior to the ceremony, Everett told Delong he wished he could repeat the past 75 years.
Gigi agreed, saying the secret to a long and happy marriage was to listen and appreciate each other.
“It’s doing what you need to do,” she said.
Their daughter thought the secret to her parent’s marriage was the fact that her father still kissed her mother every night before bed.
“They’ve been wonderful parents,” Williams said. “My daughter wrote in their card: thank you for teaching us how to love and be loved.”
Williams said her parents worked and lived their entire lives in the Anderson area.
After a stint in World War II, Everett spent more than 38 years working for General Motors and Delco Remy. He also helped widows and neighbors through odd jobs.
Gigi stepped up to help out and support her family, working at Delco Remy, with a sister, at the age of 16. Her father and two brothers died in a car-train accident while her mother was pregnant.
They have been lifelong members of First Baptist Church, serving on committees and helping whenever they could.
“There has never been any question as to my mom and dad’s work ethic throughout the years-to always be a servant to others,” Williams said. “My parents have been lovebirds since they had their first blind date more than 75 years ago.”