Violet (nee Lacey) and William (Bill) Brennan just celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary. Colleen Flanagan/THE NEWS

Violet (nee Lacey) and William (Bill) Brennan just celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary. Colleen Flanagan/THE NEWS

Maple Ridge couple celebrates 70th wedding anniversary

Sense of humour, patience key for enduring union

The first moment Bill laid eyes on his future wife, he said to himself, “Wow.”

It was 1943 and both were 20 years old.

William (Bill) George Brennan was taking an exam to work at the ordinance survey in England, where maps and plans were made during the Second World War, when he walked into the canteen to get a cup of tea.

Violet Edith Brennan (nee Lacey) was serving customers.

“From the first time I saw her I was just blown away,” said Bill.

“I was serving out cups of tea and sandwiches or buns, whatever they wanted,” explained Violet.

“It was a friendly place. Everyone talked to everyone. So we just chatted and talked, but without anything special,” she said.

But even when Bill passed his exam and became a regular at the canteen, he still didn’t have enough courage to ask her out.

“It was nearly a year before I got up the courage to ask her for a date,” laughed Bill, glancing at Violet, sitting beside him on the couch.

Their first date was at the beginning of 1945 and Bill took Violet to see an Abbott and Costello film.

“I was very keen on Abbott and Costello. I loved them. I’ve got a weird sense of humour, I guess,” said Bill.

“It’s been a bit of a family joke because she hates Abbott and Costello. She never liked Abbott and Costello and that was the first thing he took her to,” said their daughter, Marilyn Brennan.

Years later, Bill was chatting with a friend on Facebook and told him of his first date.

“I took her to see an Abbott and Costello film, would you believe? Do you wonder how I managed to get another date?”

But he did get another date and another, and the couple eventually married in 1947.

It was August or September in 1946 when Bill proposed to Violet.

They were both 19 then.

“I didn’t get down on my knee or anything. I just said, ‘Shall we get married at Christmas?’”

However, Bill was in the army. He was called up for the army in 1945 because there was still conscription in Britain at that time.

He was a sapper with the Royal Engineers and was tasked with drawing up maps and analyzing aerial photographs.

He needed permission from his commander to marry.

He was given permission to marry the following year.

So the couple settled on July 12, 1947, just after Bill’s 20th birthday on June 27.

They were married in St. James’ Church in Southampton in southern England.

The couple, now 90, just celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary, at their home in Maple Ridge.

Their only daughter, Marilyn, moved to British Columbia in 1977 with her first husband.

Bill and Violet followed in 1982 to be close to their three grandchildren.

They settled in Maple Ridge in 2015.

Now they have five great grandchildren.

“It’s silly, but I don’t really know. It’s just one of those things that just clicked. And it was a long time before it became anything really important,” Violet said about their relationship.

“We always joke and and we say she kidnapped me,” laughed Bill, because Violet is nine months older than him.

On their anniversary day, there was a party at the Creekside Adult Day Program at Ridge Meadows Hospital that Violet attends regularly.

Then there was a second party at the house with friends and family and a celebratory cake and a roast lamb dinner at a Greek restaurant.

Traditionally, Bill has always bought Violet roses for their wedding anniversary, but the last couple of years he hasn’t been able to.

Violet bought Bill a big Toblerone bar because he loves chocolate.

There is only one rule to their long-lasting marriage.

“One rule for the man, really,” said Bill, explaining that two years ago when Violet broke her hip and ended up at the local hospital, he saw a plaque in the gift shop window that read, “Yes dear.”

“I had to. I went in and bought it and gave it to Vi. It’s in the bathroom now,” said Bill.

“Always say ‘yes, dear’ to your wife. The golden rule,” he continued.

“I think patience is one thing you need,” added Violet thoughtfully.

“And you have to care, of course. We do almost everything together. We always have,” she said.

“You say it’s like being one person. And I say joined at the hip,” Bill said, smiling at Violet.

“I guess the other thing is to have a sense a humour. Don’t take everything too serious,” remembered Bill.

“Which I have not got, a sense of humour, I’m afraid,” lamented Violet.

“I make up for it. I’ve got a weird sense of humour,” Bill chuckled.