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St. Paul Park church members celebrate 50-plus years of marriage

Ron and Jeanette Leseman, of Newport; Tom and Gina McCauley, of Cottage Grove; Jim and Linda Bieter, of Cottage Grove; and Bev and Michael Schmitz, of Newport; were among more than two dozen couples to attend St. Thomas Aquinas’ recognition luncheon for couples married 50 years or more. (Bulletin photo by Emily Buss)1 / 3
More than two dozen local couples celebrated their 50-plus years of marriage at a recognition luncheon hosted at St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church in St. Paul Park. (Bulletin photo by Emily Buss)2 / 3
Ken and Alice Talcott, of Cottage Grove, celebrated their 66th wedding anniversary last week among other couples with 50-plus years of marriage at a recognition luncheon at St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church in St. Paul Park. (Bulletin photo by Emily Buss)3 / 3

Alice Talcott knew the moment she laid eyes on her husband, Ken, that he was the one for her. She was a nurse’s aide, he was her patient, and both fell madly in love in 1944.

The Talcotts, of Cottage Grove, were one of more than two dozen couples honored last week for celebrating 50 or more years of marriage by congregation members of St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church in St. Paul Park.

Started 20 years ago by church member Doris McShea, the recognition gathering was inspired by a couple she knew who were married for more than six decades.

“I had a friend who was married to her husband for 63 years and their church threw them a huge party,” McShea explained. “We have so many congregation members who do so much for our church and are married for many, many years and I wanted a way to thank them and honor them.”

While living in Rochester, Minn., and working at the Worrall Medical Center, now the Mayo Clinic, Alice, then 16 years old, set her sights on a patient by the name of Ken. He was not gravely ill, she said, but she took the time to make sure he got the best care.

“On my breaks, we’d get together and have a Coke” she said. “Or we would go outside in the afternoon.”

Toward the end of his 17-day stay, Ken said he got the courage to ask Alice out on a proper date. The Superior, Wis., resident said it was the best decision he’d ever made.

The two courted for four years, Ken eventually moved to Rochester and they married on June 26, 1948, at St. John’s Catholic Church in Rochester. They had three children, lived in various parts of the country and settled in Cottage Grove in 1959.

“It’s been the best 66 years of my life,” Alice said, while beaming at her husband.

The Rev. Tony Andrade said recognizing his congregation members who keep the sacrament of marriage provides encouragement to younger couples in the church.

“It gives them a sense of hope to see couples who are still married after all these years,” he said. “They see the same joys, struggles, hopes, fears, and they all go through them.”

Ken said the keys to lasting marriage are compromise, never going to bed angry and to always remember why you fell in love.

“And always hug each other in the morning and at night,” Alice added. “It’s tradition for us.”