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April 27, 2014

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TERRE HAUTE — Aitkens are an inspiration to all

Congratulations are in order for a local couple that recently celebrated their 70th anniversary

Spring has arrived in Terre Haute. The robins have returned. Friends who took a break from winter by traveling to warmer climates are glad to be home again.  

On April 6, longtime snowbirds Dr. William and Helen Aitken returned home to Terre Haute from their wintering roost on Fort Myers Beach. That’s a friendly vacation spot on Florida’s Gulf Coast that has been a favorite destination of the Aitken family since 1954.  

But this year was special. Although they often celebrate their wedding anniversary there, this year the celebration marked 70 happily married years together. Their daughter Judy from Tampa arranged a surprise party at Chloe’s Beach Resort on Sunday, Feb. 23. The host breezed past a long table set for the party and seated Bill and Helen with two conspiring friends at a table with a beautiful view of the beach. Moments later, family and friends arrived and great-granddaughter Addison sauntered up from behind to bring big smiles all around as the surprise unfolded.

To back up a bit (70 years!) they were married Feb. 24, 1944, at Parris Island Marine Base in South Carolina. With the war in Europe raging in the background, Bill, just out of dental school, and his lovely young bride Helen exchanged vows before the base chaplain. Shortly thereafter they were assigned to California where Bill provided dental services to young recruits. After the war they returned home to Terre Haute where they had attended high school and had their first date at the senior prom. Bill practiced dentistry and Helen taught English and Latin.

Their three children — Judy, Will, and Janet — were born in the ’50s and it became a family tradition to take the children out of school for two weeks in February to vacation on Fort Myers Beach. The three children grew up to become successful teachers and writers and now reside in Tampa, Montreal, Canada, and Denver, Colo.

In recent years Bill and Helen have enjoyed returning to Fort Myers Beach every February for not just two weeks but two months. They continue to enjoy the many friends they have made over the years, and are still active golfers. Bill says that despite her low vision, Helen can still hit a golf ball right down the middle, so long as he helps her set up. Well that’s what a good marriage is all about: Teamwork! And what a team they are.

When asked what is the secret to a long and happy marriage, Helen promptly replied, “Positivity.” Bill and Helen are definitely two positive people who are an example of teamwork, togetherness and positivity. They are an inspiration to those who celebrated their 70th anniversary with them as well as other friends and family.

Congratulations, Bill and Helen.

— Terry Tyson, Fort Myers, Fla.

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