Couple celebrates 65 years

Published 9:48 pm Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Holland residents Lawrence and Christine Tooley celebrated their 65th anniversary on Tuesday. Below is their wedding photo.

When a 13-year-old girl made an offhand remark to a classmate in the 1940s about the milkman who delivered dairy products to their school, she never imagined she was setting herself up for 65 years — and counting — of marriage.

“I said, ‘Oh, I’d like to meet that handsome man,’” recalled Christine Tooley on Tuesday. She didn’t know at the time that the classmate to whom she was speaking was the milkman’s brother.

“The next day, he popped up at school to take me out to lunch,” Tooley said.


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She and the milkman — Lawrence Tooley Sr. — celebrated their 65th anniversary with a quiet day at their home in Holland on Tuesday.

The Tooleys' wedding photo

The handsome milkman took his future bride out to lunch at school and at the soda fountain a few times before he showed up, unannounced, at her home.

“Daddy would only let him stay one hour,” she recalled.

They were married June 5, 1947, at a wedding chapel in Williamsburg. The nuptials were initially planned for June 4, but they had so many problems with the paperwork that it was postponed.

The delay was seen as a good omen by Christine’s grandmother.

“She said, ‘If it takes you so long to separate, you’ll never separate,’” Tooley recalled.

At the tender ages of 19 (him) and 14 (her), the couple started their lives together. He worked on a dairy farm, where he made $35 per week plus housing.

All six of their children were raised on the dairy farm. He later started driving a truck to earn money, and she worked for a while as a waitress at the soda fountain at People’s Drug Store in Suffolk.

As they raised their children, they started calling each other Momma and Daddy, which they continue to this day even though their youngest children are in their 50s.

They have kept their vows to stay together “in sickness and in health.” Both of them are cancer survivors, and Lawrence Sr. had a stroke about a year ago that has limited his ability to walk. He also doesn’t talk as much as he used to, his wife said, though he had some compliments for her on Tuesday.

“I love her,” he said. “I think she’s pretty.”

Doling out advice on making a good marriage, Christine Tooley advises other couples to “always make up before you go to bed, and put God first. If you don’t have God in it, you know you’re going to fail.”

The couple, now ages 84 and 79, were founding members of Community Baptist Church and now are members of Great Fork Baptist Church, though they haven’t attended much since his stroke. In addition to their six children, one of whom is deceased, they have 15 grandchildren and 26 great-grandchildren.