Stoddarts stick together through 71 years of marriageVincent and Mary Stoddart of Jamestown still enjoy each other’s company after being married 71 years. Vince is 94 and Mary will be 90 the day before they celebrate their 72nd anniversary on May 24.
By: By Chris Olson, The Jamestown Sun, The Jamestown Sun
Vincent and Mary Stoddart of Jamestown still enjoy each other’s company after being married 71 years.
Vince is 94 and Mary will be 90 the day before they celebrate their 72nd anniversary on May 24.
There is an easy back-and-forth quality to their conversations, with a loving, gentle humor behind each bit of ribbing.
“Well, it couldn’t be too bad, we’re still together,” Vince said when asked about why they’ve been together so long. “We must like each other, or we’re both just a little dumb.”
“It’s probably a little bit of both, Dad,” Mary said, chuckling.
“No seriously, she is my heart and soul. I don’t know what I would do without her,” Vince said.
Vince and Mary grew up on neighboring farms about eight miles southwest of Jamestown.
“We were real young kids,” Vince said. “I guess we met in the backyard.”
Mary was 15 when they started dating. They only went on a date in the company of a chaperone.
“We were brought up the right way,” Vince said.
Mary said Vince caught her eye in part due to his hair.
“It was white when he was a young man,” she said.
“They used to call me ‘Swede,’ because of my hair,” Vince said. “There ain’t no Swede in me.”
After a proper courting, Mary and Vince were married. He was 23, she was 18. They didn’t have money for a place of their own, so they each went back to living with their parents.
That fall Mary started doing domestic chores for a bachelor farmer. In exchange for her services, the farmer rented a part of his land to Vince to farm.
“That is how we got our start,” Vince said.
Part of why Vince and Mary have been together for 71 years is the way they were raised, they said.
“You didn’t just walk away when things were tough,” Vince said. “We are part of the ‘fix-it’ generation.”
“Just don’t squabble and fight over every little thing,” Mary said. “We always shared our money.”
They spent the next year and a half getting established. Then Vince went off to the Army to fight in World War II.
“We were just getting a good start in life when they (the government) ended it all,” Vince said.
He served in the 13th Armored Division under Gen. George S. Patton.
“They called us the Black Cats because we were the 13th division,” Vince said.
He was in charge of an armored half-track vehicle.
“I was in charge of nine guys,” he said. “We were all gunning for (Adolf) Hitler, we wanted to get him so bad.”
Vince said his division was 60 miles away from Hitler when they were ordered to stop in the spring of 1945.
“And he’s been mad about it ever since,” Mary said.
“You ain’t kidding,” Vince replied.
Mary stayed at their homestead near Jamestown while Vince was at war.
“I told him it was because there was no one else around,” Mary said, chuckling.
She jokes about Vince’s absence during the war, but she can also tell you to the day how long he was gone from her side — three years, three months and 13 days.
After the war Vince got a job with the Northern Pacific Railroad and the couple bought a house on Third Avenue Southeast. It’s where they raised their children, a son and a daughter, and up until November 2012 it was where they planned to spend the rest of their lives together.
After some physical problems, Vince and Mary moved into an apartment at The Meadows where they receive round-the-clock assistance from trained staff on site.
Sun reporter Chris Olson can be reached at 701-952-8454 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org