Home News Local news 1,900 Years of Marriage: Couples Renew Vows on St. John

1,900 Years of Marriage: Couples Renew Vows on St. John


Feb. 14, 2008 — As they have for several years running, St. John snowbirds John and Barbara Achzet took top honors for being married the longest at the sixth annual Celebration of Love Valentine's Day vow-renewal ceremony Thursday at Trunk Bay, St. John.
They have been married for 60 years.
"I can't believe it myself," Barbara said.
Another St. John snowbird couple, Nan and Bob Barlow, are right behind the Achzets: They've celebrated 57 wedding anniversaries.
Wearing a Mayan wedding dress she bought on a trip to the Yucatan back in 1972, Barbara said she wouldn't know what to do without her husband by her side.
A record 85 couples attended the sunset ceremony, said organizer Cathy Dove. That represented about 1,900 years of marriage.
Non-denominational minister Anne Marie Porter led the couples in renewing their wedding vows.
"Every moment of your lives brought you to this one," she said, as John waggled his eyebrows at Barbara. The Achzets attended the ceremony with Webster, N.Y., residents Pat and Ron Seitz. They've been married 50 years.
When asked why he stayed with his wife all these years, Ron Seitz said, "Well look at her — who'd leave her?"
Laughing, he added, "And she isn't even rich."
They have a lot of fun together, Pat said.
Others offered more serious answers.
"I want to reassure Mary that I do love her and am committed to her," said Gary Crain of Muskegon, Mich., who has been married 15 years. Mary has everything figured out, he said, but he's still trying to learn.
The Seitzes are vacationing at Best Western Emerald Beach Resort on St. Thomas.
Another vacationing couple, Jo and Frank Fachman of Minneapolis, got married 14 years ago on St. Thomas.
"We're here to remind ourselves," Frank Fachman said.
Carolyn and Rich Sells of Richmond, Va., got married on Valentine's Day two years ago. After a morning wedding on St. John, they attended the vow-renewal ceremony in their wedding finery.
They weren't quite as dressed up for this year's ceremony, but the feelings were still the same.
"We keep renewing our vows to recapture that feeling of getting married here," Carolyn said. "It's an excellent memory."
Joe and Pam Hudka of Lakeside-Marblehead, Ohio, are on St. John for the winter. Married for 39 years, the two said they thought renewing their vows would be a fun thing to do.
While the ceremony brought out lots of vacationers, many local residents also renewed their vows.
"I share such a deep love for my husband," said St. Thomas resident Judith Savage. She had her husband, Walter, have been married 30 years, Walter. "I thought this moment was right to express my love."
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