GROVE CITY – Violet Dye and William “Bill” Graham said “I do” on Saturday – decades after their paths first crossed in a one-room grade school.
An afternoon wedding ceremony was held in the senior center at College View Towers in Grove City, where they are residents.
The couple was surrounded by friends and family as the Rev. Dr. Bill Hoffman blessed their marriage, noting that their union comes after many happy years with their late spouses.
“You have more than 100 years of marriage experience between the two of you... They found love again in one another,” said Hoffman, senior pastor of East Main Presbyterian Church in Grove City.
They exchanged rings, and Graham, 88, promised his bride that he will always tell her that he loves her before the end of each day. The new Mrs. Graham, 87, was all smiles in her dark purple dress.
The Grahams know that love isn’t easy, but they also know that God is on their side, Hoffman said.
This was the first wedding ever held at the center, and Amy Perrine, the center’s director, was glad to help the Grahams coordinate the special event.
Graham moved to the high rise this summer, and when he realized that his former classmate was also living there, he asked Perrine to put them in touch.
He had some photos from around 1940 that he wanted share of the one-room schoolhouse they both attended, the Whittaker school in Pine Township.
Both Grahams are pictured in the class photo. They’re both grinning, Graham wearing an Army hat that belonged to one of his brothers.
“We knew each other immediately,” Graham said of their meeting this summer.
However, they weren’t very well acquainted during their school days. Graham and his new wife had seen each other in passing over the years, mainly through their jobs – he did maintenance for East Main Presbyterian Church, and she worked in the kitchen at the former Grove City Middle School, which was next to the church.
Both remained in the Grove City area to raise their families.
Mrs. Graham had been married for 70 years; her husband Eugene passed away in November. They have two daughters, four grandchildren, and seven great-grandchildren.
Graham’s first wife Henrietta died in 2016 after 34 years of marriage. They have nine children, 25 grandchildren, and many great-grandchildren.
After Violet and Bill reconnected, it wasn’t long before things turned into more than just friendship. Considering their age, they figured that marriage seemed like the next logical step – sooner rather than later.
Graham proposed by getting down on one knee. Mrs. Graham helped pick out the ring from Joden World Resources in Grove City.
Perrine said it makes her smile to see them together, especially since Mrs. Graham was grieving the loss of her husband.
Mrs. Graham said they might take a bus trip to celebrate their nuptials.
Both of them agreed that honesty and communication make for a strong marriage.
Mrs. Graham’s great-grandson, Lance Ward, walked her down the aisle, and Graham’s son Andy served as best man.
Ceremony songs were performed by Mrs. Graham’s daughter Terry Martin, and friend Carol Raboch.
Martin said the family is still sad about her father, but they are glad to see their mother in good spirits.
“We want her to be happy,” she said.
Mrs. Graham’s other daughter, Darlene Coursen, said she was surprised but happy when her mother said she was getting married again.
“And may your coming years together be blessed with happiness,” Raboch said.
Perrine said she was overwhelmed by the people who donated items for the wedding. Peggy Fisher took photos; food was supplied by the Family Tradition, and Nutrition Inc., the senior center’s meal provider; the senior center brought a cake, flowers and decorations, and the McQuiston Center donated some decorations.
Most of the decorations were purple – Mrs. Graham’s favorite color – and a candle was lit in memory of those who have passed away.
“I’m very happy for them,” Perrine said.