Lifestyle & Human Interest

Veteran Surprises Wife on 50th Anniversary by Having Grandchildren Officiate Vow Renewal


James and Lynn Gauthier met over five decades ago in New York as they were both going to school. They finally talked after bumping into each other at a bar, though they’d had a class together, too.

At the time, James — who also goes by Jim — asked for a dance, not knowing that it would lead to a lifelong relationship. They began courting and continued for nine months until he was drafted.

In an attempt to keep in touch with Lynn, Jim chose a position that would keep him nearby. “It gave me the chance to be close to Lynn, her parents and for us to get married,” he explained, according to Story Trender.

“I was allowed ten days of leave in December of 1968 to come back and get married. We had three weeks’ notice to plan the wedding. Everyone thought Lynn was pregnant, of course, but she wasn’t.

“When I got married, my brother and I only had one suit between us, so he wore mine and I wore my uniform to get married. I didn’t have that uniform anymore, unfortunately, but I had a uniform that would be worn in summer without a tie.”

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Their initial wedding was in 1968 in New York, but they were married again in a Catholic ceremony when Jim moved to Lackland Airforce base later in Texas.

“The original was such a whirlwind, with a lot of uncertainty as to whether I could have ended up god knows where,” Jim explained. “The second wasn’t much of a ceremony for the Catholic service, when we married in San Antonio, Texas, we had Lynn, I and two witnesses.”

On Dec. 28, they hit a milestone many can only dream of: their 50th anniversary. The third time is the charm, so the veteran decided to surprise Lynn again with a third ceremony — this time, performed by their own grandchildren.

“Jim put on his uniform and it still fit him, then he started dancing with me after the renewal of the vows,” Lynn recalled. “I had tears and you can definitely see me crying. It was a wonderful day.”

“He is my love and we had to do something, if we didn’t do anything we would have just been sitting at home.”

They held an anniversary dinner at a restaurant, and according to Jim most of the attendees had no idea what he was up to — except for Christopher, Brett and Cole, the three grandchildren who completed their online ordination so they could legally perform the ceremony for their grandparents.

“Only a few people knew about it, most of the crowd wasn’t aware anything would happen apart from the meal to celebrate our anniversary,” Jim admitted.

“Even Lynn didn’t know it was going to happen, I surprised her, I knew she couldn’t be upset if her three grandsons were involved, as she loves them to death. There were a lot of ‘Oohs’ and ‘Ahs’ by the time we were finished dancing, I didn’t see it, but I was told there wasn’t a dry eye in the place.”

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“I didn’t know because I wasn’t looking at anyone else but Lynn throughout the whole dance. The words of the song are very appropriate, it’s about a couple in their golden years not trying to relive their old memories but to continue to live every morning of every day.”

More than 50 years after he first asked, they’re still dancing. His secret to success is simple and sweet.

“You have some disagreements, but I think the secret is that your love holds you together and that’s the feeling we have always had for each other.”

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