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150 Years of Marriage By Linda Vanek

Gas was 29 cents a gallon. Sales tax was three percent and a double fea- ture with cartoons at the theatre was one dollar. JFK was inaugurated and Elizabeth Taylor and Rock Hudson were top box office stars. The smooth sounds of “Moon River” floated on the airwaves and “West Side Story” jetted ahead of the pack to win the Best Movie Oscar. Yes, 1961 was a very good year.

In the fall of 1961, three couples honored their love for one another by saying “I Do.” They were born in Ohio, Iowa, Michigan, Texas and California, and all grew up in Southern California. Over the years they migrated to the same church, Valencia United Methodist, where each couple recently decided to renew their vows to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversaries.


golden moment gave them a chance to reflect on sharing their lives and love.

“It really was love at first sight when he walked in. Bells rang and whistles blew,” recalled the former Maria Aza about her husband, Richard “Dick” Sears. Their first date was an Easter sunrise service at the Hollywood Bowl, where the 18-year-old Maria had recently seen herself and the other graduates from Hollywood High School reflected in the pond below the stage. As co-workers at a bank, Dick and Maria were told that one of them would need to leave, since dating fellow employees was against bank policy. After she left the bank, Maria found work she enjoyed as an office manager for a doctor. Dick went on to have a long career at the Wall Street Journal as the regional personnel manager in California.

An early challenge for the couple was working out their religious differenc- es, since Maria was raised Catholic and Dick was a Methodist. Since

faith had always been an impor- tant part of their lives, finding a church where they could participate together was their first obstacle to overcome. After visiting several dif- ferent churches, they felt most com- fortable in the Methodist Church. “Compromise is an important ele- ment in every marriage,” said Maria. This set the example for how the couple worked together. “That’s how we’ve been our whole life...we work it out,” explained Dick.

The couple married in the roman- tic, natural setting of the Wayfarers Chapel on September 16, after Maria turned 21, as her mother requested. Their son, David, was born a year later on October 16 and the couple has two granddaughters. “We’ve been blessed,” they both say.

Dick & Maria Sears

When the Sears were dating, they would wander along the Santa Monica pier and beach. “We would wonder what life was going to be like and when we could get mar- ried. The beauty now is the dreams on the beach are realized,” Maria said. They decided to renew their vows to celebrate. “We love each other. We’re committed to each other. We wanted to thank God for what we’ve had,” Dick explained. Realizing that the mem- bers from the churches they have attended are their extended families, they wanted to celebrate the blessings that their family and friends have

Photo at left courtesy of Sharon Ventrice 14 Santa Clarita Living Magazine December 2011 Newhall - Valencia

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