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Be mine

Couples tell their stories

Created date

January 29th, 2009
"Love is an act of endless forgiveness, a tender look which becomes a habit." Peter Ustinov If not for a greedy cabbie, James and Elizabeth Belwood might never have met. She was a teenager in England. He was a young American pilot stationed at an airfield not far from Norwich, England. After their first bombing mission, James and his copilot headed into Norwich to find some fun. They met a cab driver in a pub who offered to take them to a dance club outside of town. "When I walked in, I saw this pretty girl at the side with some friends," James says. He asked Elizabeth to dance, and there was an instant connection. They agreed to meet the next day at 5 p.m. She stood outside the meeting place and waited and decided to give him just a couple of minutes to arrive before she headed home. James was playing snooker in the pool hall, but he made it in time. They continued to date, and every time they said goodbye Elizabeth wondered if he would come back from his next mission. They never mentioned it, but the concern was always there. James flew 34 bombing missions during World War II. Afterward, he returned to the U.S. The couple knew they wanted to get married, but Elizabeth s parents said she was too young. They corresponded by letters until March 1946 when, after two years apart, she boarded an airplane for New York City. From there, she flew to Kansas City on a DC-3 that went only 150 miles per hour. Elizabeth arrived in Kansas City on March 18, 1946, and was married to James the next Saturday. They will celebrate their 63rd wedding anniversary next month. They have two daughters, five grandchildren, and two great grandchildren. They say they have had a wonderful life together and are continuing their adventure at Tallgrass Creek. The key to a successful marriage, they believe, is patience and simply loving each other. "Marrying her was the best decision I ever made," James says with a smile at his wife. "Me, too," she responds. As it turns out, the cabbie could have told the American men about a dance place just a couple of blocks away. But instead he suggested a spot that required a ride in a taxi. "It all hinged on that cabbie," James says. "He wanted a fare. We owe our meeting each other to him." High school sweethearts Ron and Shirley Duckworth started dating the summer before their senior year at Lutheran High School in St. Louis, and more than 50 years later, they are still sweethearts. Ron "Duck" Duckworth had returned to the school after being gone for his sophomore and junior years. "He was short and fat when he was a freshman. When he came back, he was tall and handsome and I thought, Who is this guy? " Shirley recalls. Duck is anything but short, towering above his diminutive wife. They seem like the perfect fit, comfortable and relaxed with each other, knowing what the other one is going to say. After high school, she went to nursing school; he joined the service. They wrote and called often. When Shirley went to visit him at Camp Pickett, Va., her mother decided she had better go along she was afraid they would elope. Shirley recalls with an affectionate laugh that her mother never left them alone. Her mother got the formal ceremony she wanted, and the couple was married on September 11, 1954. He worked for 37 years for the St. Louis Globe-Democrat newspaper. She worked as a nurse. They raised their children and traveled a lot, including six visits to Maui and several cruises. "We re great friends," Duck says. "We do everything together." The couple bowls, does water aerobics, and walks as a pair. They enjoy getting together with other members of the Grant s Farm Manor priority list, and they are looking forward to moving into the community when it opens. "I can t wait," Shirley says. When asked the secret to a successful marriage, Shirley says, "Don t ever go to bed mad." Duck pauses and looks straight into his wife s eyes before responding, "I love you. What more can I say?"