After surveying the audience, the Rev. Jimmie Schwartz found no one in the Krug Chapel auditorium at Carroll Lutheran Village Tuesday afternoon who had been married for 70 years. No one except Jane and Ralph Nupp.
“We have not reached the purity of 70 years of marriage like the two of you have,” Schwartz said to a crowd of almost 150 people at the couple’s celebratory service — which offered cake and punch, like their original wedding reception in 1948.
The Nupps are both originally from Ohio, but have lived in the Carroll Lutheran Village community in Westminster for almost 24 years.
Their celebratory anniversary service came with a longtime neighbor’s daughter, Peggy Brengle, on the piano, and family members flooding the front rows to share anecdotes of congratulations.
Janet Nupp, the second oldest of six Nupp children, said the most important thing her parents taught her was love; their love for their children was just as strong as their love for one another.
“I asked my mom, ‘If we’re in a shipwreck, and the boat is sinking, who are you going to save?’ ” she stood in front of the crowd.
After all, there were six kids, said Nupp, and her life could potentially be on the line.
“Without hesitation she said, ‘Dad,’ ” Nupp said, to which the crowd erupted in laughter.
She then read Corinthians 13:4-7, the Bible passage on love. “Thanks Mom and Dad for teaching us how to love,” Nupp said. “We love you.”
Love and family have always meant everything to the Nupps, Carroll Lutheran Village Director of Public Relations Lisa Albin said after the service ended. She looked upon lines growing in front of the happy couple to shake hands and offer congratulations.
“The one thing that is most important to both of them is their family,” Albin said. “Everything revolves around their family and each other.
“It’s rare to see a 70th anniversary anymore these days,” she said, “and they’re truly as much in love today and devoted to each other as ever before.”
One of the couple’s 14 grandchildren, Emily Nupp, 23, echoed that sentiment.
“My grandma and grandpa, they’ve really showed me that love knows no bounds,” she said. “And they have demonstrated that love is unconditional — I always tell my friends my grandma runs off of family. And she really does.
“When we celebrated 65 years that was incredible,” Nupp said. “It’s been really great and I’ve been really blessed to be part of this family.”
The Nupps met on a blind date, Janet Nupp said. And with a country man as husband and a city girl as wife, they found home in each other.
Ralph Nupp was in the Navy during the Cuban Missile Crisis and was a test pilot for Westinghouse for many years. Jane Nupp cared for the six children on the farm at home.
When asked their secret, how they’ve kept their marriage going for 70 years, Ralph Nupp, who has lost much of his voice, said, “It’s because I can’t talk,” and smiled with a mouth full of chocolate-and-vanilla sheet cake.
“Whatever he said,” his wife smiled. “He probably said that joke he always says about not being able to talk.”