Oakwood helps couple celebrate 75th wedding anniversary

A chance encounter more than half a century ago turned into a life-long love story for Walt and Eva Greenwood of Dearborn.

Walt was a teen-ager then, working at the Ford Motor Company, when he convinced a friend to drive him to Canada to visit with a cousin one weekend. The men decided to go down to a local YMCA dance, and that was the first time Walt saw Eva—she had never been to a dance before, either.

“I walked all the way across the floor and went right up to her and asked her to dance—and we’ve been dancing ever since,” Walt said.
That was 77 years ago. Now 93, the Greenwoods celebrated their 75th wedding anniversary on April 9. They agreed that it was a case of love at first sight.

“I just felt at home with him,” Eva said. “He was a nice man, and I admired his principles. He was always a gentleman, and it was natural to him.”

A long-distance relationship was difficult back then. Walt didn’t have a phone in his home, and had his friend drive him up to Toronto after every payday. Walt and his friend stopped in small towns along the way and slept in the back of that Ford Model A.

“It was all we could afford; nobody had nothing back then,” Walt said.

Walt earned $20 every two weeks—plus an additional dollar if he showed proof on the following payday that he put that money into the bank. To earn spare money, he and his friends would find wire and paper and sell it to a man in a horse-drawn buggy; he weighed it out and they were paid in pennies. Eva was attending business college at the time.

He made a lot of sacrifices to come to see me,” Eva said. “It was very expensive in those days and he didn’t have a lot of money. It was a long way in those old cars, but he managed.”

When the couple decided to marry, Walt said he first had to check to see if they had enough money for the license. They went to the Wayne County building in Detroit together—and were married right there in the hallway to conserve funds.

The Greenwoods raised two children, have three grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. They said the secret to their success has been knowing each other, respecting each other, and working through things together.

“You have to be very understanding and very trustworthy of your mate’s personality or habits, so that you feel comfortable with each other,” Eva said. “If he’s kind with you and kind with his parents and he’s persevering and does his best with his work, then you know he’s a good man because he takes pride in what he’s doing. All those things add up for me, with Walter.”

“You have to respect one another. You have to understand her needs and wants. You have to recognize her private time—and let her have it,” Walt said. “You have to recognize the things she likes to do, and what you like to do, and you have to share that. You can’t just do whatever you want to do and say ‘to heck with whatever you want to do.’ That won’t work.”

Walt retired from Ford Motor in January of 1968. They still live in the house they had built in Dearborn more than 60 years ago, thanks to help from Senior Care Solutions by Oakwood. Then Greenwoods turned to Senior Care Solutions when they decided that assisted living wasn’t right for them. Senior Care Solutions works with the Greenwoods every day, helping with meals and other chores around the house, coordinating medical care and making sure the couple have what they need to live the way they want to.

“It is evident everyday how Walter and Eva love each other and how much they care about others,” said Marcia Filek, Manager of Geriatric Care for Senior Care Solutions by Oakwood. “Senior Care Solutions by Oakwood is there to help them age gracefully as they wish, but they always ask what they can do for the staff. We are blessed to be part of their wonderful life!”

Their son, Dale, lives out of state and said he appreciates all the company does for his parents. "I can't say enough good things about them," he said.

The couple celebrated their anniversary with friends and family recently at the Dearborn Inn. They also renewed their vows—at a church, this time: the Christ Episcopal Church in Dearborn.

“She said ‘I do’ again. Can you imagine?” Walt said. He turned to his wife and joked: “Boy, I sure tricked you good.”

CUTLINE: Walt and Eva Greenwood renewed their wedding vows on their recent 75th anniversary.