Delores and Jim Marshall will celebrate 72 years of marriage Feb. 19. Photo courtesy the Marshall family

Initial spark still burns after 72 years

  • February 13, 2021

“Love at first sight” as a concept probably finds itself with an even split between advocates and detractors.

Jim Marshall, readying to celebrate the 72nd anniversary of his marriage to his wife Delores on Feb. 19, places himself squarely among the advocates.

“My wife and I were both working for the (Canadian National Railway) in Toronto,” reminisced Marshall fondly in a phone interview with The Catholic Register. “She was working in the accounting department, and I would always have to walk through the accounting department to deliver cheques to the treasurer. I would always make sure to see this beautiful woman.

“Eventually I nodded to her, met her, went out with her and got married,” he said with a light chuckle.

Their initial bond quickly transcended beyond physical attraction. Marshall said he was drawn to Delores’ openness, generosity and humility.

Marshall was about 18 or 19 years old when he began his courtship. Delores was two years his senior. Now they are 91 and 93 respectively, retired and living in Collingwood, Ont., on Georgian Bay north of Toronto. He worked many decades in the industrial planning sector and she secured several gigs working with comprompter software.

The Marshalls are one of 125 Catholic couples being honoured for enduring marital love on Marriage Sunday — serendipitously, the annual celebration this year takes place on Valentine’s Day — in the Archdiocese of Toronto.

While ongoing COVID-19 restrictions in Ontario prevent Cardinal Thomas Collins from presiding over the annual Celebration of Marriage Mass for these couples, they are being feted with a blessing certificate from the archdiocese.

Couples were invited to order certificates if they were celebrating a milestone anniversary (25, 40, 50 and 60+ years). There is one other honoured couple with 70 years of marriage under their belt.

Marshall did not apply for this recognition directly. Fellow parishioners from St. Mary’s Parish in Collingwood, Ont., sought this commemoration on the couple’s behalf. The Marshalls, for many years, were highly active in different church ministries and contributed to the Knights of Columbus and Catholic Women’s League respectively.

This wedding anniversary will be different than any in the past because the pandemic prevents them from being together. Marshall currently resides at the Raglan Village Retirement Community, which is right across the road from the Collingwood Nursing Home, where Delores is receiving care.

“She has a few health issues that I cannot attend to in that way, and she has some dementia too, so we wanted her to have the best care,” he said.

They have had to communicate almost solely through the Zoom video conferencing platform since COVID-19 ground society to a halt last March.

“My wife is not as familiar with computers as the rest of my family members are,” said Marshall. “She is a bit confused by the technology, but it means a lot when we try to meet on Mondays at 3:30.”

While he cannot be in the physical presence of Delores for the foreseeable future, Marshall can uplift himself with the memories of their life experiences in Montreal and New Brunswick because of his work, along with many golf outings, snowbird getaways and cherished family outings that have defined their 72 years together.

The Marshalls were blessed with five children — Kirk (who passed away at 33 to cancer), Gary, Bradley, Kim and Lisa. They also have eight grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

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