Feb. 14, 2007 — St. John snowbird John Achzet had the answer to what makes a marriage last written on the T-shirt he wore to Wednesday's fifth annual Valentine's Day vow renewal ceremony at Trunk Bay. The shirt read, "Yes, dear."
Achzet should know. He and his wife, Barbara, have been married for 59 years. As they have in previous years, they captured honors for being married the longest.
"She's a keeper," he said of his wife.
Nancy and Robert Barlow, another pair of St. John snowbirds, had to settle for second place. They're married a mere 56 years.
When asked why they came to renew their vows, Robert Barlow had a quick answer. "It's very romantic," he said.
Art and Elaine Greenberg of New York, married 51 years, are here on vacation. They spent a week at Maho Bay doing an Elder Hostel program and are spending this week at Estate Lindholm. Next week they'll move to a villa.
"It's important to show your love and feelings after you've been together for awhile," Art Greenberg said.
The ceremony, performed on the beach by non-denominational minister Anne Marie Porter, was as full of ritual as most weddings.
"The ring is the symbol of wholeness, peace and unity," Porter said, as she led the couples through a repeat of their vows and an exchange of their wedding rings.
While only a handful of the 70 couples who came out to renew their vows passed the 50-years marriage mark, others still had plenty of years under their wedding bands. Indeed, the couples' years of wedded bliss hit a total of 2,140 years.
Terri and Jim Provost of St. John are married for 42 years. "He's the perfect father, a wonderful husband and it's my way of letting him know I love him," Terri Provost said.
Marsha and Michael Antkies of Ridgefield, Conn., are married 38 years. Marsha Antkies said she thought renewing their vows was an extension of their work as couples therapists.
Bonnie and Jim Michaels of Harvey's Lake, Pa., decided to renew their vows because it was their 16th anniversary. They honeymooned in St. Thomas. "And it's a honeymoon every time we come here," Jim Michaels said.
Part-time St. John residents Candice and Alan Greathouse have been married 14 years. "It renews our faith in each other and the fact we still want to be together," Candice Greathouse said.
Rasheed and Juelis Hodge are married only one and a half years, but they came over from their home on St. Thomas to keep their love alive.
"Just to keep things fresh," Rasheed Hodge said.
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