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Renewing ‘I do' after 50 years
Husband surprises wife on anniversary
Jacque and Dennis Ellingson love to look through their wedding pictures taken Feb. 8 at the Malmstrom Air Force Base Chapel in Montana — those taken in 1963 and those taken 50 years later.
This Corning couple renewed their wedding vows on the same day and in the exact same place as when they originally said, "I do."
"I came as a complete surprise to me," said 66-year-old Jacque. "Dennis arranged everything without be knowing. I just couldn't believe it."
Dennis, 69, admits his anniversary plans took months of planning.
"I had to set things up at the base and with everyone involved. It was a lot of work to keep it a surprise from my wife," he said.
The couple, who have lived in Corning since 1970, met in Chinatown in San Francisco.
"A few of my friends and I went over there just goofing around — we were 18 years old — and I saw her and she winked at me," Dennis said.
He asked Jacque's father if her could speak to his daughter, and the response was an adamant "no."
"I just stood there with my mouth open. But she snuck around and gave me her address," Dennis explained.
According to Jacque, she saw Dennis as he was riding a little carousel that had zoo animals on it.
"I fell in love with him right away," she says.
Dennis was an airman 1st class in the Air Force working as a civil engineer stationed in at the Malmstrom Air Force Base when the couple got married.
"I didn't open my eyes the entire time when we first got married. When we renewed our vows I cried the entire time. Tears of gratitude and joy of course," said Jacque.
The renewal trip started as a trip to Seattle.
"We decided to make a circular trip and go to Butte, Montana," Jacque said. "I had no idea Dennis had an alternative motive the entire time. When we got to Butte, Dennis said that since it was so close why not go to Great Falls. From there, he said since it is so close let's go to the Air Force Base where he was stationed when we got married."
When the couple stopped to eat in a restaurant near the base, in walks their son, Army Capt. Edward Ellingson, who is stationed in Korea.
"I was shocked. I just started crying, but I still had no idea of all Dennis had planned," Jacque explained.
A little while later, the couple's daughter, Alena Ward, and son, Eric Ellingson, both of Corning, arrived. The Ellingson's other two children, Calli Huber and Wess Ellingson were unable to attend.
"That is when I really began to figure out what was going on," Jacque said.
Dennis recalls all the loopholes and hurdles he had to get through to make things happen.
"At first, the base wasn't going to allow us to renew our vows on the right day," he said. "I had to get clearance for everyone to get on the base and reserve places on the base for us to stay. After moving up the ranks I finally got everything approved, but it was a lot of work."
On Feb. 8, Jacque went and got her hair done and her daughter brought the white dress Jacque would wear for the ceremony.
"I just kept on crying. It was such a wonderful day," Jacque said. "My husband even arranged to have my bridal bouquet be the same flowers as when we got married 50 years ago."
As a special gift, Dennis had silver dollars plated with 24-karat gold that he presented to Jacque and each family member to signify the couple's golden wedding anniversary.
The Ellingsons may look a little different today than when they first said "I do," a little bit of gray hair, a few wrinkles, but the love they share is timeless.
"We believe divorce is just to easy," Jacque said. "We have had our struggles, but you just have to work through them."
Their advice on marriage is, "Just argue things out and get it over with."
For the Ellingsons that advise has provided 50 years of success.