Celebrating Decades of Love, At a Distance

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A memory care center in Rowlett went all out to help a couple celebrate 71 years of marriage.

Betty and James Heaslet married back in 1949 but they now live apart.

Betty is a resident of Iris Memory Care in Rowlett. The staff at the center knew June 8 was a special day for Betty. It was her wedding anniversary, and they knew James would be there to see his favorite gal.

Because of COVID-19, the couple had to see each other from a distance and a fence was between them, "but the staff at Iris really fixed things up nice for the celebration," said son-in-law Robert Shiflet.

There was a cake, streamers, colorful balloons with bigger ones in the numbers 71. And, James, 91, brought a card to celebrate a life shared with the woman who caught his eye decades ago.

"They actually met while Betty was dating one of James’ cousins but, James swept her off her feet and to the altar. Less than a month before their wedding, they were stranded on one of the upper floors of the old Montgomery Ward building on West 7th Street during the great Fort Worth Flood in May 1949," Shiflet wrote in a post to NBC 5.

Jane Jones
Betty and James Heaslet celebrate their 71st anniversary at a distance. The family credits the staff at Betty's memory care center for making the day as special as possible. Photo credit: Jane Jones.

The Heaslets lived in Weatherford for more than 50 years, had five children and now 14 grandchildren and 18 great-grandchildren.

Last year for the 70th anniversary, Shiflet says the family hosted a weekend-long celebration. While this year's big day was much smaller and a distance, the couple still got to spend treasured time together.

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