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Still smiling after all these years

Some memories fade, others vivid in Rucks' 64 years together

Some memories fade, others vivid in Rucks' 64 years together

March 14, 2007|by MARLO BARNHART

WILLIAMSPORT - Helen Ruck recently sat beside William Ruck, her husband of 64 years, at Williamsport Retirement Village and hoped he would know she was there.

"I come whenever someone can bring me, even though he doesn't know us," Helen said.

On this occasion, their daughter, Carolyn Barton, brought her mother over to help observe her father's 84th birthday.

From the first day she saw Bill, Helen Beaver said she was smitten.

"I liked his curly hair," she said. "And it turned out, he liked my long, dark hair."

Bill was working at Manbeck's Bakery and Helen - who was still in high school - would stop there to purchase a pack of pecan buns for her lunch.

"He didn't take my money," Helen said. "Of course, I didn't know then he had his eye on me."

Helen said Bill finally asked her out and that date, as she put it, lasted three years.

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The world they knew then was poised on the brink of World War II - an event that had a tremendous effect on their lives.

"We were in The Maryland Theatre balcony when it came over the news reports that they were drafting 19-year-olds - right away," Helen said.

Married on Thanksgiving Day in 1942, the Rucks had about two months together before he left for six months. When Bill came home on a 10-day pass, Helen was at the hospital presenting him with their first child, Carolyn, who now works as a certified medicine aide in the assisted-living facility at WRV.

The next time Bill left for the service, he was gone 2 1/2 years.

"I have every letter he sent me," Helen said. "I keep them in a shoebox."

Helen also saved Bill's medals and hats.

"I remember I got a telegram from Bill saying he thought he would be going to the South Pacific, but then the war was over and he came home," she said.

The couple had three children, one of whom died recently, Helen said.

Both Helen and Carolyn said Bill has moments where he seems to recognize some people and things. Late last year, when the couple celebrated their 64th wedding anniversary at WRV, Bill knew some who were there.

"I look a lot like mom did when she was younger and sometimes he thinks I am mom," Barton said.

Because she works at WRV, Barton says she is able to stop by and visit her dad often.

A birthday card from President George W. Bush was presented to Bill when his birthday was observed.

During the recent birthday visit, Bill suddenly opened his eyes and smiled. Then Helen began to sing to her husband - a song she has sung many, many times before because it is one of his favorites.

As she sang the lyrics about sending him a bouquet of roses, Bill turned and looked at Helen and smiled again.

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