NS couple celebrates 70 years of marriage, 80 of friendship

Alice and Warren Rowe flip through a scrapbook their son Wayne Rowe created at Mystic Aquarium Saturday, April 11, 2015. The 88-year-old Rowes were celebrating their 70th wedding anniversary.

Eighty years of friendship, 70 years of marriage and one fateful bus trip.

It’s not a kicker for a movie coming soon to an area screen — it’s the story of 88-year-old North Stonington residents Alice and Warren Rowe, who celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary at Mystic Aquarium April 11 with family from across the country in tow.
The two met when Warren’s family moved two doors down from Alice’s Brooklyn home when they were 8. But it wasn’t until that bus trip, a few years later, that they became more than friends.

“We were on an outing one of the local business people put on,” Warren began. “When we got on the bus on our way home, there weren’t enough seats for all the children, so she sat on my lap. We made a connection there and it stayed that way.”

Married in the midst of World War II, the Rowes moved from Brooklyn to North Stonington after the Brookyln Navy Yard, where Warren worked, shut down around 1965. Warren finished up his career in Groton as a supervisor of shipbuilding through federal civil service, and the two remain in North Stonington to this day.

So, what’s their secret?

“I don’t have any secrets — it’s just a miracle,” Warren said, adding that “true love” is key. “We love each other so much, even though we do have our times.”
“You have to,” Alice added, laughing.

They sat at Mystic Aquarium April 11 surrounded by their three children, four of their grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren, aged 2 to 16.

But as the relatives came in — from the Boston area, from Weston and even from Portland — the elder Rowes had no idea.

“Oh, it was a great surprise,” Warren said of learning how many family members had come to help them celebrate.

Daughter Linda Shea said there was a “dual reason” for the choice in venue: not only did a beluga whale presentation entertain the great-grandchildren for a few hours, it also brought Warren back to the same room where he sometimes worked while volunteering at the aquarium for almost two decades.

“We wanted to include the great-grandchildren and let them have a good time and hopefully remember their great-grandparents along with that,” Shea said. “It being 70 years, we had to acknowledge that — you don’t see many people lasting that long with marriage.”
Son Wayne Rowe said he knew his parents would enjoy the chance to sit back and watch their great-grandchildren having a good time.

“That’s what (Warren) always says. We ask him, ‘What do you want for Christmas, what do you want for your birthday, what do you want for Father’s Day?’” Wayne said. “He says, ‘Just your time.’”

Lucia Dinwoodie, 2, points at a photo of her great grandparents, Alice and Warren Rowe, and asks if itís her parents at Mystic Aquarium Saturday, April 11, 2015. The 88-year-old Rowes were celebrating their 70th wedding anniversary.

With the number of jokes and laughs shared among family members that afternoon, an outsider wouldn’t have known some of them hadn’t seen one another in years.

At the end of it all, the group headed to St. Thomas More Parish in North Stonington, where, following Mass, Alice and Warren renewed their vows.

“Just reaching (70 years) is something I never dreamed could be possible, but here we are,” Warren said.

“It’s a miracle,” Alice said.
l.boyle@theday.com
Twitter: @LindsayABoyle