On Dec. 22, 1972, at a courthouse in Ocala, Florida, Robert and Margaret Rentch were married.
Standing in front of a judge, Margaret wore a dress, and Robert wore blue jeans because they were in Florida to do some bass fishing.
On Dec. 22 of this year, the couple decided to renew their vows for their 45th wedding anniversary.
Margaret wore a black and silver dress, and Robert wore a blue-and-white striped shirt with dark-colored khakis.
This time, they had an audience — residents and employees of Seymour Place, a senior living facility they have called home since June.
Led by the Rev. Ralph Blomenberg, the Rentches reaffirmed the pledge they made 45 years ago, each answering “I do.”
They then turned toward each other and repeated their vows phrase by phrase. Robert went first and became a little emotional, and that made Margaret get a little teary-eyed.
Then they exchanged rings as symbols of the promises they made to each other, and Blomenberg led everyone in reciting the Lord’s Prayer before wishing them congratulations and telling Robert, “You may kiss the bride.”
The couple then walked arm in arm down the aisle, and they cut a cake and fed each other the first piece. The attendees joined them for cake and punch.
“I want to thank everyone for what they’ve done for us,” Margaret, 74, said after the ceremony.
It was her idea to renew their vows.
“I had thought about it. Of course, I never said anything to him,” she said, smiling. “Our age, he’s 87 … you never know what the future is going to bring.”
She shared the idea with Shirley Lookingbill, a licensed practical nurse at Seymour Place, and Lookingbill worked with Jeff Jenkins, the executive director, and Tonya Ross, the activities director, to make the ceremony happen.
They shared the plans with Robert, and he agreed to it.
“They surprised me with it,” he said, smiling.
They even helped Margaret get a dress.
“I had no idea I was going to wear a dress,” she said. “It had been a long time (since she last wore one).”
Margaret asked Lookingbill to be the maid of honor, and Robert asked fellow resident James Fish to be the best man. They both stood with the couple during the ceremony.
“Oh, that meant an awful lot to me. Bob and Margaret are just like my big brother and sister. They are great people,” Lookingbill said.
“You couldn’t ask for better,” Fish said of the Rentches.
Fish said he was a little nervous serving as a best man for the first time, but he was happy to do it.
“I thought it was a privilege that I could do that,” he said.
Jenkins escorted Margaret down the aisle as “Here Comes the Bride” played in the background.
Having worked in health care for 40 years, including the past two at Seymour Place, Jenkins said this was his first time witnessing a wedding or vows renewal at his workplace.
“It was my pleasure,” he said. “I enjoyed giving her away. I don’t think she ever put it that way. She always said, ‘Can you walk me down the aisle?’”
Robert was born and raised in Stickney, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago, while Margaret grew up in Fortville.
They met while both of their families were in Florida at a bass fishing camp.
“We were at a picnic table just talking,” Margaret said. “You know how you get feelings, you just knew there was something there.”
They then stayed in touch via phone for a while until deciding to go back to Florida to get married.
After living in Ocala for eight months, they lived in Illinois and South Dakota for some time before moving back to Florida and then settling in Indiana.
Robert served in the Air Force for 20 years and 17 days and then was a truck driver going coast to coast for 30 years. Margaret worked at USA Group in Fishers before Sallie Mae bought out that company, and she later worked at casinos in South Dakota and Shelbyville.
Before moving to Seymour Place in June, they had lived in an apartment in Scottsburg.
“I’ve been in the hospital several times with three major surgeries, and (their children) thought it was time for Mom and Dad to get care, so here we are,” Margaret said.
Margaret has three daughters from a previous marriage, Robert has a son from a previous marriage and they have one son together.
They all live in different states, so they weren’t able to be at the recent vows renewal ceremony, but Margaret’s sister and brother-in-law came up from Scottsburg.
After a tough year with Margaret having some health issues, the couple were glad to have an opportunity to express their love for each other.
“You realize what each other goes through with sickness … and he has been there for me,” Margaret said.
“And she has always been there for me when I was in the hospital,” Robert said.
The couple will remember the special occasion for as long as they both shall live.
“It’s something you can cherish for down the road,” Robert said.
“And share with everybody,” Margaret said.