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A 70th wedding anniversary is a celebration indeed.
Two couples in Brunswick County achieved that marital milestone in the same week.
Connecticut natives Nick and Lillian Szeszkowski were honored at a 71st anniversary party Sept. 9 at Shallotte Assisted Living.
New Jersey natives Matthew and Theresa’s 70th anniversary was Sept. 7. They were feted with an early surprise party by their family in July.
NICK AND LILLIAN SZESZKOWSKI
The Szeszkowskis had a nice party attended by family, Nick Szeszkowski said during a recent interview in the room he shares with his beloved Lillian at Shallotte Assisted Living. Festive white balloons from the party still decorate their doorway.
While his 92-year-old wife napped, 96-year-old Nick recalled their wedding on Sept. 9, 1939, back in Torrington, Conn.
“We waited [to get married] till she was 21,” he recalled. “I told her, ‘now we can get married.’”
They wed a week after Lillian’s birthday on Sept. 1.
Nick worked in the laboratory testing alloys for American Anaconda Brass Co. in Waterbury, while Lillian worked as a bookkeeper for a hairdresser, her husband said.
They had two daughters. Their family now consists of seven grandchildren and one great-grandchild.
He said they met because he used to play basketball a lot, traveling around to different cities in Connecticut, and Lillian was in attendance.
“My first game, I scored a lot of points, and she didn’t even notice,” Nick recalled. “After that, we got a little more acquainted.”
During social gatherings at a local roadhouse, “we kinda danced together,” he said. “The more we danced, then we would go out.”
In school, Nick says he was a daydreamer and couldn’t care less about his studies. But his wife, he said, was a straight-A student.
The Szeszkowskis have been at Shallotte Assisted Living for the past year and a half. Their daughter, Virginia Rizzo, lives in Little River, S.C., and looks out for them.
Nick says his wife is a better eater than he is.
Nick gets around in a wheelchair now after losing his legs to circulation problems.
“The only thing is, now [Lillian] don’t remember a lot of things like I do, so people ask me,” he said. “But she’s a good eater.”
And the secret to a long, happy marriage?
“You’ve got to give a little and take a little,” Nick advises, adding, “There’s a song about that.”
MATTHEW AND THERESA KORP
Dancing also was involved when Matthew and Theresa Korp met more than seven decades ago, in 1937 at Mountain Lake Casino in their native New Jersey.
Matt was sitting on a porch railing watching the dancers go by.
When a friend of his waltzed by with a dark-haired beauty, “I thought, ‘That’s not a bad-looking broad,’” he quipped during an interview last week at their Ocean Isle Beach home.
He added he isn’t really sure “broad” was a term used back then. But he did tell the friend he wanted to meet his dance partner.
The next time his friend spun Theresa by, “he introduced us,” Matt recalled. “That was the beginning.”
Their courtship lasted about three years before they married in a small family ceremony on Sept. 7, 1940, in Belvidere, N.J.
During World War II, Matt worked for Brighton Aeronautical. He went on to work “various little jobs,” at Ingersoll Rand, Wright Aeronautical in Paterson, N.J., and finally, 25 years making aircraft engines with Curtiss-Wright Corp.
Theresa was a stay-at-home mom caring for their four daughters and son, in order of birth—Ann, Barbara, Linda, Matthew and Marjorie.
Their family has since expanded to 19 grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren.
The Korps lived in Florida for about 25 years before settling in North Carolina to be closer to family. Their daughter, Ann Otten, lives nearby in Sunset Beach.
Matt is now 93; Theresa is 91. And longevity apparently runs in the family. He said his sister already celebrated her 70th wedding anniversary four years ago.
As for the success of a long marriage, “Look at the pictures,” Matthew said, pointing proudly at the many family photos on display in their living room and taken at their recent party.
“It’s kind of cemented our marriage, I think,” he said. “If you want [children] and you accept the responsibility of ’em, you don’t have time to divorce or anything like that. It was something we wanted and we accepted it, all the pitfalls along with it, as naturally they do with any family. We accepted it and worked through. We never thought of anything else.”
Through the years, “we leaned on each other,” he said. “As I recall, we had our bad times as any married couple would have. We had our good times as any married couple would have.
“They must have balanced out, because we never changed anything.”