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RCA m@ca.on.grey_county.owen_sound.the_sun_times 2003-10-17 published
Long marriage follows accidental meeting
City couple celebrates diamond anniversary
By Jonathon JACKSON, Sun Times Staff, page A3
Helen VERMILYEA remembers telling the minister of her church in Toronto that she had been married for six months and thinking that was a long time
He said that was not a particularly long time, telling her he had been married for 10 years.
That's not a long time either, at least not in the eyes of VERMILYEA and her husband Doug. Thursday was the Owen Sound couple's 60th wedding anniversary.
They celebrated a few days early, with a party last Saturday at Harrison Park. Most of their family was able to attend, filling the community centre beyond capacity.
"Some had to eat outside at the picnic tables, (the hall) was so full," Helen said.
Doug VERMILYEA and Helen McGREGOR met entirely by chance in about 1940. Doug, a native of Regina, was in the Royal Canadian Air Force. He was looking for a girl named Helen when he knocked on his future wife's door, unaware the girl he was looking for lived next door.
Helen, an Annan native who was working as a nurse at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, was captivated by the handsome serviceman. He came back the next day to invite her to church and they married about three years later near Annan, at the Johnson Presbyterian Church, which is no longer standing.
After a honeymoon near Bracebridge, she went back to Toronto and he went overseas. She came home after giving birth to the first of their six children and they were reunited after he left the air force in 1946.
"We bought a house from Helen's father and that's why we moved from Toronto up to Owen Sound," Doug said.
In Owen Sound, the VERMILYEAs owned Hatton Hall Catering for 33 years while Doug also worked at the RCA plant. After the factory closed in the mid-1970s, he went to work as a caretaker at the Knox church in Owen Sound, finally retiring at age 77.
"The time goes, raising a family. It was time consuming," said Doug, now 85. "You get old before you realize it, but we still don't feel old."
"I don't know where the time has gone," said Helen, also 85. "We've had a very very busy life."
It was during their career as caterers that they first heard of a couple who had been married for as long as 50 years. As she had done early in her marriage, Helen's commented it was a long time for a couple to have been married.
"1 thought that was wonderful, to have a couple married that long," she said.
The VERMILYEAs, who have 12 grandchildren and six great-grandchildren, are proud of the seven certificates they received in commemoration of their milestone anniversary. They're from Owen Sound Mayor Rick BEANEY, Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound Member of Provincial Parliament Bill MURDOCH and Member of Parliament Ovid JACKSON, Premier Ernie EVES, Prime Minister Jean CHRETIEN, Gov. Gen. Adrienne CLARKSON and Queen Elizabeth.
It's very special," Helen said.

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