MARS HILL, Maine — When Delbert and Wilda McCrum of Mars Hill celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary a year ago, it was a joyous occasion tinged with a bit of sadness.
It was a huge milestone for the couple whose first date had been a picnic on Mars Hill Mountain when Delbert McCrum was 16 and Wilda Chase McCrum was 17. But the couple was upset that at the end of the celebration, they had to go home to separate living quarters for the first time in their married lives.
At that time, Wilda McCrum needed special medical care and had moved into Aroostook Health Center in Mars Hill. Her husband was healthier and maintained the apartment they once shared at Leisure Village in Presque Isle. Although Wilda did not want her husband to be ill or unable to care for himself, she still missed him and wished they could live together. The fact that he had to leave her side to return home at the end of their anniversary party in 2013 pained both of their hearts.
But all of that sadness was erased this year when, a week before their June 24 anniversary, Delbert McCrum moved into Aroostook Health Center with his wife.
On Tuesday, in a 71st anniversary party specially arranged by the staff, the couple cut their cake at their new home, together.
“It’s our anniversary gift this year,” said Wilda McCrum, 91. “We are very fortunate to have one another. Although we’d get to visit each other over the past year and half — it just wasn’t the same. I would pray each day that he’d come join me here at [Aroostook Health Center].”
The staff at Aroostook Health Center, a facility of The Aroostook Medical Center in Presque Isle, arranged the Tuesday event for the couple. The celebration featured an anniversary party, a cake and a limousine ride to visit places in the community that held significance to their life together.
“It is something we really wanted to do for them,” said Kelly Lundeen, Aroostook Health Center administrator. She added that all of the residents at the facility mean a great deal to them, and they looked forward to doing this for the couple.
During the limousine ride, the McCrums first traveled to the base of Mars Hill Mountain, where they had their first date. Then, they were taken to Westfield to the site of the former Corner Church, where they were married, and finally, the couple went to their former homestead, where they raised their family. Upon returning to Aroostook Health Center, the two were greeted by family, friends and fellow residents who gathered for a special anniversary party in their honor.
The couple noted that the only other time they were apart for an extended period prior to Wilda McCrum’s move to Aroostook Health Center was when Delbert McCrum graduated from high school and left Mars Hill to attend the University of Maine in Orono to study agriculture in the early 1940s.
Wilda McCrum is writing a journal chronicling her family’s experiences and including photos. The McCrums did a lot of traveling in a motorhome after their children were grown and Delbert McCrum retired, visiting 49 states and all of the Canadian provinces and territories. The couple even took a motor coach to Mexico.
Delbert McCrum, 90, said that one of the secrets to his long lasting marriage has been telling his wife how much she has meant to him over the past seven decades. He said that he always gives his wife a kiss and tells her that he loves her.
“We’re just part of one another,” he said.
Wilda McCrum echoed his sentiments.
“When you see a good man — you marry him,” she said. “We respect one another. I think that is one of the keys to a good marriage.”