White Rock couple celebrates 72 years

Winnipeg natives moved to west coast with young family in 1965.

White Rock residents Cliff and Grace Thitchener

A White Rock couple who’ve known each other since they were kids celebrated 72 years of marriage this week.

Cliff and Grace Thitchener grew up across the street from one another in Winnipeg, and although their romance would later blossom, Cliff told Peace Arch News last week it wasn’t exactly love at first sight.

“She was just another kid on the street in those days,” Cliff, 92, said with a laugh.

It wasn’t until Cliff joined the Navy – he was only 16 at the time, and confessed he lied about his age to get in – that the friendship began to blossom into something more, when the young sailor would return home on breaks from duty.

As their relationship grew – Cliff, who was stationed in Halifax, recalls Grace would write him a letter every day – the couple decided to take the plunge, after Cliff proposed (engagement ring and all) through the mail.

They wed on Sept. 29, 1943 at Grace’s home – the same house she was born in – and later had two daughters.

The family moved out west in 1965, living in Vancouver, then Delta and Chilliwack, before finally settling in White Rock.

In their retirement years, the Thitcheners spent many weeks travelling in their RV. Some of their favourite places to visit were in the Southern U.S., Cliff recalled, including Palm Springs and the Grand Canyon.

Though the couple did not have plans to commemorate their anniversary – Grace, 89, suffers from Alzheimer’s and now resides in Evergreen Baptist Campus of Care – they visit as often as possible with their nearby family members, including five grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.

As for maintaining a happy marriage for more than seven decades, Cliff said communication is the key.

“A lot of the times you don’t agree with one another, but you just have to talk it out,” he said.

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