The bride wore pink.
A pink hat, that is. Along with her cream-color cardigan and pastel pants, she was the vision of spring. The groom arrived in a dark blue sports jacket, dress pants and crisp blue shirt.
While their outfits were different than those at their wedding 70 years earlier, the love and commitment between Bartul (“Bart”), 95, and Lorraine, 89, Letica remain the same, and they reaffirmed it by renewing their vows on their anniversary, April 24.
The nuptials took place at St. Anthony Village, 203 Franciscan Drive, Crown Point, where the couple lives. After a mass in the chapel lined with beautiful stained-glass windows, Father Mike Slattery and Deacon Brian Nosbusch asked Bart and Lorraine if they again take each other as lawfully wedded spouses. Surrounded by family, friends, St. Anthony residents and staff, and community members, they both said “I do” and a festive reception followed.
How does something so special come together? Lori Chalmers, St. Anthony Village director of sales and marketing, credits the staff. “Our ministry’s mission is ‘Living Joyfully,’ and our team dedicates their time to our residents to make things like this happen,” she said. “In addition, the adage that ‘it takes a village to raise a child’ is applicable for seniors. We say, ‘it takes a village to make a wish come true,’ and that has been Mr. Letica’s focus for quite some time.”
Bart Letica grew up in the East Chicago Harbor, where Lorraine was born and reared. After Bart served in World War II, he attended school and worked in his brother’s shoe repair shop. One day, Bart was left alone to mind the store. In walked Lorraine with an armful of shoes—and the rest was history! They fell in love and married April 24, 1948. The couple had a son, Mike Letica, and four daughters, Barbara (deceased), Rita, Susan, and Lucy.
Bart lives in St. Anthony Village Assisted Living, and Lorraine resides in their Skilled Nursing Memory Care, as she has Alzheimer’s Disease. Every morning, Bart dresses up and picks up the love of his life and spends his day wheeling her around St. Anthony Village.
Bart said Lorraine is “still as beautiful as the day I married her,” and his advice for a long marriage: “Try not to go to bed angry and love each other.” Bart said he often says a prayer. “I ask God to bless Lorraine and to help us on the journey we call life.”
After the vows were renewed, guests gathered in the dining room for a reception, complete with a head table for the happy couple and a two-tiered, white wedding cake. Their son, Mike Letica, paid tribute to his parents. “Seventy years; not too many people make it that long. My dad’s mission in life is to take care of my mom, and he’s done a beautiful job.”
Chalmers credits the staff for the success of the event.
Edith Jackson, life enrichment director, and Dawn Woods, life enrichment coordinator, prepared the reception. Jackson is an event planner with 18 years’ experience, but this was the first time she organized a vow renewal. Jackson made a wrist corsage for Lorraine. “It makes us feel wonderful to do this,” said Woods. “It’s very humbling.”
Administrator Barb Magerel’s sister, Vicky Solczak, former owner of Cake Pan Alley in Lansing, IL, made the couple’s wedding cake.
Deacon Brian Nosbusch, director of pastoral care and mission integration, said he was thrilled to be a part of the Leticas’ celebration. “They wanted their vow renewal on the exact day. They’re an inspiration to every resident here, and it’s important to celebrate their lives,” he said. “We celebrate people’s lives every day, since each is a gift. Everyone has a story and the more we learn about them, the more there is to celebrate.”
Jill Barr, sales counselor, added: “We conduct an assessment to determine the level of care individuals require and provide them with the caring support they need for their best quality of life.”
According to Barr, there are 60 apartments in Assisted Living. Residents have the option of selecting either a one bedroom or a studio, and both are among the largest of their kind in the area.
She also added that residents in Memory Care, Assisted Living, and Skilled Nursing are encouraged to enjoy all the amenities the community offers. “Our goal is to meet their unique emotional, physical, and spiritual needs, in a secure and safe environment.”
St. Anthony Village offers child care on their campus, too. They frequently hold intergenerational programs that pair the children with Assisted Living residents.
“This is a very cheerful environment. When my day is done, I know I’ve made a difference in the lives of those we serve,” said Barr.
St. Anthony Village is a Franciscan Community, sponsored by the Franciscan Sisters of Chicago, and has been a part of Crown Point for 80 years. For more information, call 219-661-5150 or visit franciscanministries.org/st-anthony-village.