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Catonsville couple passes a 70-year marriage milestone

Catonsville residents Genevieve and Richard McQuay, hold a photo from their wedding.
Catonsville residents Genevieve and Richard McQuay, hold a photo from their wedding. (Jon Bleiweis/BSMG Staff)

After returning from a four-year deployment to Europe in World War II, Richard McQuay stopped by Kibby's Restaurant and Lounge and saw a familiar face.

It was Genevieve Zalegiris, the girl who lived a few blocks away. They had gone to elementary and junior high school together.

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He approached Zalegiris, as she was eating with a friend, and said he remembered her. She asked him to say her name.

"Genevieve Zalegiris," he said.

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As Zalegiris's friend was leaving, McQuay asked if he could walk her home. When they arrived, he asked if he could see her that Friday night.

She said yes, and a year later, on May 26, 1947, McQuay and Zalegiris got married at St. Edward's Church on Poplar Grove Street. They spent their honeymoon in Philadelphia and Atlantic City and moved to Catonsville shortly after, where they have lived for 61 years.

Seventy years later, Richard, 95, and Genevieve, 94, are still going strong. They celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary last Friday.

They credit their longevity to good behavior.

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"I never thought I'd achieve it," he said about the milestone. He didn't think he'd live to be 95. "And she stuck with me."

"And she says, 'Well, if you're going to live to that age, I'm going to keep up with you.' I said 'All right, I'll take you along with me,'" he said.

"And you did," she responded.

"Yes, I did," he said.

Richard spent 40 years in the Army, including two years at a reception center during the Korean War and 34 years as a civilian personal affairs officer, before retiring in 1983, as a lieutenant. Genevieve worked as a phone operator before marriage and then was a homemaker.

The couple has one child, 57-year-old Katherine McQuay Lewis, of Bethesda, and a 16-year-old grandson.

"It's just a blessing to have had them with me for this long," she said.

Much has changed since they got married 70 years ago during the Truman presidency. Richard McQuay said his favorite president was Ronald Reagan, who he appreciated for his dedication to his country and his demeanor.

"I thought he was a class act," he said. "He was very mild, and not like the guy we've got today."

According to a 2012 report from the U.S. Center for Disease Control's National Center for Health Statistics, the probability of a woman's marriage surviving after 20 years between 2006 and 2010 was 52 percent, while for men, it was 56 percent. It does not track marriage length beyond 20 years.

Richard McQuay doesn't think there will be many long-term marriages moving forward, believing younger people are not as religious as they were.

"It's a different climate," he said.



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