A Love Withstanding Decades
A stolen date and a motorcycle kick-started a 70-year romance. Tony Zarella, 94, and his wife, Peggy, 92, residents at Benchmark Senior Living at The Commons in Lincoln, Mass., are celebrating 70 years of marriage. They were interviewed by reporter Amaka Ubaka, and their story was broadcast on WDHD's 7 News Today in New England as a Valentine's Day feature!
It was 1946 and Tony was on leave from the U.S. Navy. He was looking for a fun night out and convinced his brother to give up his date for the evening and allow him to go in his place. Pulling up on his brother’s motorcycle, Tony rang the doorbell to meet Peggy at her home. Happily surprised by the unconventional vehicle choice for a first date, Peggy’s mother quickly took a picture, and Tony and Peggy were on their way for a long ride in the Massachusetts countryside. According to them, they “hit it off instantly,” but the budding romance ended abruptly when Tony returned to the Navy to complete his service.
Peggy vividly remembers the day he came home. “I was out on the Arlington Reservoir on a row boat my father had built, and I noticed something on shore. I looked closer and it was Tony in his Navy whites, waving his hat to get my attention.”
Tony and Peggy were married on Jan. 18, 1948, in Pepperell, Mass.
They began their lives like many of their peers, starting careers and looking for opportunities to become homeowners. Their lives were interrupted again when Tony was called back to the Navy to serve in the Korean War. Peggy was left on her own to work at a music shop in Lexington Center. When Tony returned, they had their children, Nancy and Neil.
Tony began a career as the chief engineer at the Middlesex Hospital, and the Zarella family took to sailing on the weekends and enjoying New England harbors. They eventually moved from their home in Massachusetts to Dorchester, N.H., in search of the great outdoors. They enjoyed exploring together, taking photos and traveling to Florida during the winter months.
As the years have gone by – and if you ask them those years “flew” by - they are thankful for the amount of time they have had together and watching their family continue to grow. Now with three grandchildren and two great-grandchildren, Tony and Peggy are enjoying the simple life – spending time with the family, not worrying about the hassle of cooking and cleaning and enjoying the independent living programs offered at The Commons in Lincoln.
Seventy years together has taught them a lot. “We always tell aspiring couples to take every day as it comes and try not to get upset over too many things.” Peggy and Tony plan to spend Valentine’s Day together, organizing the photos from their 70th anniversary party and creating albums for their loved ones.