Diocesan News

Milestone Marriages in Forest Hills

Couples Still Laughing and Loving, 50 and 60 Years After Saying ‘I Do’

By AnnaMarie Prono

Msgr. John McGuirl, pastor of Our Lady of Mercy, recently officiated over the renewal of wedding vows for two long-time married Forest Hills couples, Joe and Elaine Rutherford and Karl and Joanne Hellerich. The couples are seen above left, Rutherfords at left and Helleriches at right, cutting a shared anniversary cake. (Photo AnnaMarie Prono)

“Keep a sense of humor,” was Joe Rutherford’s response, when asked for the secret to 60 years of marriage.

His wife, Elaine, beamed when asked separately and said, “Always try to make your partner happy.”

On Sept. 5 at Our Lady of Mercy Church in Forest Hills, Msgr. John McGuirl, pastor, officiated over the renewal of marriage vows for two couples. Joe and Elaine Rutherford were married on Aug. 31, 1958, and Karl and Joanne Hellerich wed exactly 10 years and one day later on Sept. 1, 1968. Msgr. McGuirl also gave the couples a special blessing in the presence of their families and close friends.

Afterwards they gathered in the church hall, joined by the Golden Age Club, where a light lunch and anniversary cake were shared.

Elaine started planning for this special day months ago, and included their friends, the Helleriches. Ten years ago, the two women met through the church’s Ad Hoc Committee. They worked together planning and supporting parish endeavors, as their friendship developed.

Much in Common

Besides their marriage dates, the couples have much in common. After marrying, both started families, lived in Forest Hills, and were active members in the parish of Our Lady of Mercy. Each couple was blessed with one daughter and one son.

How did the ladies meet their husbands? Elaine and Joe Rutherford met at the Irish American Dance Hall in Mineola, Long Island, in 1956. “It was the last dance and Joe asked me to dance,” Elaine said. “We’ve been inseparable ever since.”

Two years later, Father Johnson officiated at their wedding ceremony at Our Lady of Mercy Church. A black and white photo of the couple leaving the church after exchanging nuptial vows was used on a handmade jumbo anniversary card which the Golden Age members signed.

Similarly, Karl and Joanne met at a City Center dance in Manhattan. Karl was in the Army and on leave. Dressed in street clothes, he asked Joanne to dance, never disclosing his military affiliation. He simply told her that he worked at Fort Dix. Two years of courting followed.

Joe and Karl both got cars after their prophetic dances. It made traveling between neighborhoods in Queens easier. They were all from different areas within the borough.

Grandchildren Get-Together

Four of the Helleriches’ grandchildren joined them at a private table for the event.  They were so excited when Pauline Szabados, president of the Golden Age Club, asked them to sign a special card for their grandparents. The children were so thrilled to be included, and asked to sign the Rutherfords’ card too.

Parishioner Fran Sidlo sat a table with other ladies from the parish who thought it was wonderful to be part of the celebration. Everyone loved having the children and grandchildren present.

“It is inspiring to have a front-row seat at this couple’s amazing life. I am blessed to be their daughter and can’t imagine having two more wonderful people as my parents,” Kathy Rutherford said of her parents.

Joanne and Karl shared how they continue to keep love alive after 50 years. Simply put, Joanne said, “You can’t pick on the little things, like the toothpaste cover.”

And Karl emphasized the importance of good communication: “You have to talk things out and compromise. It is about give and take.”