WATERFORD, Wis. – Some people get surprise birthday parties. Ilda Ruth Southey gets surprise weddings.
Twice in her life Southey was surprised with a wedding ceremony on Christmas Eve, both times to Francis Southey.
Her future husband planned their original wedding for Christmas Eve 1942 while he was stationed in Sherman, Texas, awaiting orders to ship off to Europe during World War II.
"I didn't know I was getting married, I just went to spend Christmas with him and I got down there, he had the wedding all arranged," said Ruth Southey, 85, who lives at the Waterford Senior Living facility.
On Monday, staff at the senior facility arranged the same surprise for their 65th anniversary. The couple renewed their vows in front of three generations of teary-eyed family and friends.
At the ceremony, Francis Southey, 90, reminisced about how the first wedding almost didn't happen.
"She said that she wasn't going to marry me," he said. "She said she didn't wanted to get married. She wanted a wedding, a big wedding, but I didn't have any money."
To Ruth Southey, her 65th anniversary is a milestone she always sensed would come.
"As my mother always said, when you are married, you are married for life and that's what we did," Ruth said. "It's just life, that's what it is. Just life."