CHAZY — Jane and Ralph “Pete” Hubbell started their lives together expecting to be in it for the long haul.
And on Feb. 6, the Chazy couple celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary at their beloved Sunnywood home.
“Sunnywood is the roots of this family,” Jane said of the lake-view home her husband built. “We always knew this is where we wanted to end up.”
Jane, 90, and Pete, 91, lived in Garden City, Long Island, and summered at Sunnywood for most of their lives, but they have been full-time residents of the North Country since 1984.
“We always said when we retired that we were going to retire here,” Jane said.
MET AT DANCE SCHOOL
The two met during dancing school at a Long Island country club.
“I enjoyed dancing with her (and) being with her,” Pete said.
They differ on details as to when they officially started dating. Pete says their journey began in junior-high school; Jane insists it was in high school.
“You see, we don’t always agree,” Pete said, smiling. “Even after 70 years.”
After graduating, they went off to college; he to Cornell, she to Smith.
“And then the war came along, and he was the first in his fraternity house to enlist,” Jane said.
Pete attended cadet school in Denver while Jane continued her education.
The wedding proposal came by phone.
“He didn’t go down on any bended knee,” Jane laughed, adding that Pete had been talking about marriage for months.
“I think that’s when she sort of said, ‘If you’re going to be in the States for six months, all right, we’ll get married,’” Pete recalled of the fateful phone call.
“And that’s the way it worked out.”
A second lieutenant, Pete graduated on Jan. 1, 1943. On Feb. 6 of the same year — a cold, snowy day — they were married at the Cathedral of the Incarnation in Garden City.
“It was a beautiful day, really,” Pete said.
“And that was just about the way it was,” he said. “I was here for about six months, and I went over to England (for the war).”
They lived apart those first couple of years, and Pete returned from war in November 1945.
For the next 25 years, the two raised their family — three boys and two girls — while Pete worked in the industrial textile business. Jane started a nursing career at age 50, a job she stuck with until she was about 75.
Both were involved with a number of community groups through the years; Jane was president of Northern Adirondack Planned Parenthood, and Pete was on the board of United Way.
All along the way, they’ve traveled the world and made lots and lots of memories.
“We just always had a good time together doing things,” Jane said. “That’s what’s kept us going and our children coming.”
“I think the thing that means the most to me is the fact that my children still all love to come and see us and be with us,” Pete said.
What’s the nicest thing they’ve done for one another?
“I asked her, and she said, ‘Yes,” Pete said.
“I gave him five children,” Jane quipped.
“Yeah,” Pete replied.
“Pete was always cute,” Jane said. “He didn’t like buying greeting cards and things, and so he’d always make something. I was always impressed with what he would make as a card or what he would say.”
The secret to a long marriage, the Hubbells say, is loyalty, love and laughter.
“I think we’ve played jokes on each other a lot,” Jane said. “That keeps interest going. You have to keep a little bit of the unknown that’s going to happen, I think, in life.”
Their advice to young couples is to keep a sense a humor and be accepting.
“Be loving and forgiving,” Pete said. “Because you’re going to be different, but forgive the other one’s differences; accept them.”
When times get tough, it’s important to forgive and forget, Pete said.
“You struggle through, and usually it works out,” Jane added. “Just have patience, understanding. And love is the basis of it all.”
Pete stressed the importance of never going to bed with a disagreement.
“Whatever it is, we always kiss each other (and) say we love each other before we go to bed. We never, ever go to bed mad at each other.”
“We, you know, work it out somehow.”
“Whatever comes along, we try to accept it,” Pete added. “And certainly … the most wonderful thing is the love that we have for our children and they for us.”
Pete hopes his legacy is happy great-grandchildren.
“And then some,” he said.
Though Pete has had some health problems over the years, the couple’s future looks bright.
He’s been volunteering in the medical library at CVPH Medical Center weekly for more than 20 years. She cross-country skis whenever there’s snow and rides her bike when the weather’s nice.
“I have a goal that maybe we might reach 100,” Jane said.
“That’s what I’d like,” Pete replied, gazing over at his bride.
Email Rachael Osborne: firstname.lastname@example.org