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Sunday Seniors: With 70th anniversary upcoming, Enfield couple looks back on decades of marriage

  • Bill and Gloria Beattie finish their lunch at home on Mascoma Lake in Enfield, N.H., on Friday, June 27, 2020. The couple will celebrate their 70th wedding anniversary on July 1. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Bill Beattie helps his wife Gloria out of her chair at their home in Enfield, N.H., on Friday, June 27, 2020. Gloria was in the middle of a physical therapy appointment with Jennifer Kiser from the Visiting Nurses and Hospice for Vermont and New Hampshire. Their daughter Peggy Farley, of Claremont, N.H., is also visiting. The couple will celebrate their 70th wedding anniversary on July 1. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Bill and Gloria Beattie laugh at his mother's home in Wilder, Vt., in 1948, two years before they were married. The Enfield, N.H., couple will celebrate their 70th wedding anniversary on July 1. (Courtesy photograph)

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 6/27/2020 9:21:47 PM
Modified: 6/27/2020 9:21:45 PM

ENFIELD — When Bill Beattie was dating his future wife of 70 years, Gloria, he’d hitchhike from Wilder to Enfield to see her in the summers during high school.

Bill, now 88, had to make sure he left in time to catch a ride back. One night there were no cars to be found.

“Remember that night? He stayed too long,” 87-year-old Gloria recalled during an interview with her husband and Peggy Farley, their daughter. “Dad says, ‘You better get going home,’ because his mother always got scared if he wasn’t home.”

Gloria’s father offered Bill his car for the night.

“I didn’t bother to tell him that I didn’t have a license,” Bill said.

“The next morning, I hear tap-tap-tap on my window. He was out there,” Gloria recalled.

It was about 4 a.m. Bill wanted to return the car before there was traffic on the road.

Now, decades later, the couple lives in that same home on Mascoma Lake where Bill tapped on Gloria’s window during their courtship. And that’s where they’ll celebrate their 70th anniversary on Wednesday.

The couple met at school and dated throughout their years at Hartford High. They were in the same class, though Bill is a year older.

“I was a year behind,” Bill said. “I had all my childhood diseases in the first grade and I never went to school.”

Bill was on the football, basketball, track and baseball teams. But he still made time for Gloria.

“He walked me home every day,” she recalled.

They married shortly after graduation. There wasn’t a proposal, per se; it was a decision they came to together.

“We graduated from high school in early June and, the first of July, we got married,” Bill said.

Gloria grew up in White River Junction and spent summers in Enfield on the lake.

“It just so happens that her father bought this land on my real birthday,” said Bill, who was born Aug. 10, 1931. “He must’ve had a feeling or something.”

After marrying, they moved back and forth between the Upper Valley and New York a few times, with Bill working at a Long Island mental health facility, at IBM as a hazardous waste manager and in various side hustles to support the couple’s growing family.

The couple played in a bowling league together and traveled. They’d regularly see friends for dinner — always having a cocktail before heading out to a restaurant.

“I never told him he couldn’t do this or that,” Gloria said.

“She told me what to do,” Bill said with a laugh.

Their marriage has been a true partnership, and they’ve supported each other through various moves, job changes and living situations, including when one of Gloria’s brothers and his wife moved in with them just after their marriage.

“I was making $54 every other week,” Bill recalled. “They lived with us for about a year. I bought my first car with the money they gave us” — a 1941 Chevy Cooper that cost $225.

The couple had six kids over 18 years. Gloria — herself one of six children while Bill is one of four — stayed home raising the children. Once the youngest were in school, she worked at a school for children with disabilities. Summers were spent in Enfield on the lake.

“For our family, this was vacation,” said Peggy, the couple’s youngest child and only daughter. “From New York, we would come up and stay here as well in the summers.”

The kids would challenge each other to swim across the lake, Peggy recalled, with someone following in a rowboat in case they couldn’t make it.

“It hasn’t changed a lot,” Bill said, looking out at the view.

That’s how it was until 1994, when they retired and moved from New York State to Enfield for good.

The Enfield home has continued to be a gathering spot for the family. In addition to six children, Gloria and Bill have 10 grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren. Gloria’s brother and sister-in-law live next door. Two of the couple’s sons own a home down the shore and live there seasonally.

Even when the couple didn’t live in Mascoma Lake year-round, it was always home — a constant, just like their relationship.

“The commitment was there for them, and there wasn’t another choice for them,” Farley said. “You had to figure things out and get through them.”

Editor’s note: For information on how to send the couple well wishes, contact Farley at ItsMePeggy@live.com.

Liz Sauchelli can be reached at esauchelli@vnews.com or 603-727-3221.




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