Guilderland Nursing Home Couple to Celebrate 70 Years of Marriage
Wednesday, Aug. 8, 2018 — Joe and Joan Clemens, a senior married couple residing at The Grand Rehabilitation and Nursing at Guilderland, will celebrate their 70th wedding anniversary at a special vow renewal ceremony and reception at the facility located at 428 NY-146, Altamont, NY 12009 on Wednesday, Aug. 15.
Joe, 93 and Joan, 90, were married in 1948. The couple will begin the day by attending an 11 a.m. mass at Latham’s Our Lady of Assumption Church with their two children before returning to the facility for a 3:30 p.m. courtyard vow renewal ceremony joined by family, staff and community residents. Music will be played from the couple’s early life together.
“It’s a remarkable milestone for a couple to celebrate 70 years of marriage,” said Melvin Hitt, administrator, The Grand Rehabilitation and Nursing at Guilderland, noting that residents are creating decorations and helping prepare the facility for the big day. “We are delighted to come together to celebrate the longevity of this happy loving couple’s marriage.
“Although both Joe and Joan are confined to a wheelchair and Joan has dementia, they remain truly devoted to one another,” Hitt added. “When she sees Joe....she just lights up! They hold hands as they stroll down the hall in their wheelchairs. We have even made arrangements for them to be in a room together.”
The two lovebirds first met at Snyder’s Lake, a popular hangout spot outside of Troy, N.Y. following the end of the World War II.
“She was there with a girlfriend,” recalled Rick Clemens, 65, their son. “My father, who had been fighting the Japanese in the Pacific with the Marines, was with a couple of buddies in a beautiful red convertible. She thought he owned the convertible, which he didn’t, but there was an instant connection and they started dating.”
Not too long afterwards, Joe and Joan got married. They moved into a modest second-story apartment in The Collar City where they lived for a couple of years before purchasing their first and only home at 3 Caroline Street in Latham, N.Y. Daughter Cynthia (CJ), 67, a retired JAG Corps judge who lives in San Diego, was born in 1951 and Rick, a retired insurance executive, was born in 1953.
Life was tough for the young family. Joe first made ends meet by working odd construction jobs for family members. His uncle Billy, a local card shark and pool player, then told him about an opening at Niagara Mohawk Power Company. He put in his application and went on to spend 33 years in the utility company’s gas department. Meanwhile, Joan worked 30 hours per week at Montgomery Ward in nearby Menands, while also raising the children.
“If you look in the dictionary under the word love you’ll see a picture of those two,” said Rick, noting that the couple have renewed their vows every five years following their 50th wedding anniversary. “They certainly take the marriage vows — `for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health’ — to heart.
“My mother developed dementia when she was 75. A lot of husbands would have put their wives in a home right away, but not dad,” Rick continued. “He was her sole caretaker, even when things started getting bad. And he continues to be with her every step of the way!”
For more information about The Grand Rehabilitation and Nursing at Guilderland, please call (518) 861-5141 or visit thegrandhealthcare.com/guilderland.
ABOUT THE GRAND HEALTHCARE SYSTEM
Based in Whitestone, N.Y., The Grand Healthcare System offers customized rehabilitation and nursing services to patients who require either short- or long-term care. Its state-of-the-art facilities, which are located at five sites across New York, feature certified instructors who provide exceptional clinical care to help residents achieve their wellness goals. All sites offer carefully curated entertaining and dining options, and tranquil grounds for optimal recuperation. For more information, visit thegrandhealthcare.com.