Marriage spans 70 years for Dick and Marcia Baumgardner in Greencastle

PAT FRIDGEN
Richard and Marcia Baumgardner remain active in Greencastle, as they have during the past seven decades of wedded bliss.

Richard "Dick" and Marcia (Hart) Baumgardner will celebrate 70 years of marriage on Monday. The Greencastle boy wed the Hagerstown girl on Feb. 13, 1942. Through the decades they have celebrated joys and weathered heartache, but always shared what they consider a wonderful life.

"The secret of getting along is just say 'yes, dear,'" quipped Dick with a straight face.

Marcia's tip was to "forgive and forget. Occasionally agree to disagree. It's been a very good marriage."

The couple traveled extensively due to Dick's membership and officer positions in the National Association of Home Builders. They crossed the United States for annual meetings, and also took opportunities to visit the Caribbean and Europe.

Dick owned G. Keith Constructors for 36 years, and took on projects in the greater vicinity. They included the Greencastle post office, Sheffield Manor in Waynesboro, and housing developments in Shippensburg, West Virginia and Virginia. He was active in the local, Franklin County and Pennsylvania Builders Associations, and retains an interest in them today. He retired five years ago.

Dick is a member of the Greencastle Rotary Club and keeps busy with a "honey do" list at home, as well as cooking. "That's in self-defense," he explained.

Marcia belongs to Greencastle-Antrim Homemakers, Women's Council for the building association, and bridge and reading clubs.

They are longtime members of Evangelical Lutheran Church.

Young love

Dick, 88, and Marcia, 89, met when he was 15. He and a buddy pitched a tent at the Chesapeake and Ohio canal. Her family had a summer home along the Potomac River, and maintained a path to the canal.

"We didn't own the towpath, but we thought we did," she said, in defense of what happened next.

Three of her strapping big brothers marched down to the tent and kicked the boys off the land.

"The only way I could get even with them was to marry their sister," said Dick.

It didn't happen immediately. Marcia fell for the buddy and her girlfriend liked Dick. However, he called her up anyway, and their first date was at the Hagerstown fair.

When they eloped, Dick was home from the Army for a family member's funeral. Marcia had already attended Hagerstown Business College for a year, at the insistence of her father, who wanted her to learn a useful skill. He didn't think college would do that. The newlyweds didn't tell anyone what they had done. Dick returned to New Guinea and Marcia went back to the University of Maryland, where she was enrolled. Word, of course, leaked out.

To some, it would appear trouble was on the horizon.

Dick confessed, "Her mom was president of the Women's Christian Temperance Union and my family owned the bar."

However, everyone got along well and embraced the new in-laws.

Though separated while he was in the service, Marcia found a way to see him.

"You crawled out the dorm window to walk downtown to catch a bus to St. Louis to see me," he reminded her.

Dick was discharged in 1945 and they settled in Greencastle. They first rented, and then bought a house on South Washington Street, where they lived for 54 years. The couple moved to Homestead Drive six years ago.

They had five children, Richard Jr., Terry, Keith, Dennis and Deborah.

Bearing sorrow

In 1970 Dick and Marcia flew their Beech Bonanza to Denver. Keith "Kippy", at age 22, was living north of the Arctic Circle with a Greencastle friend, working for the summer. He was also a pilot, and was to meet them to fly their plane from Colorado to the 49th state. He had a passenger and over the Gulf of Alaska, the plane iced up. It disappeared, and Kippy's body was never found.

"He was the adventurous one, of all our kids," Marcia said.

Only with time did they work through their grief. The rest of the family gave them comfort. It grew to 36 members today.

"She has great-grandchildren in college," Dick joked.

The clan gathers each Christmas, and every other year visits the Outer Banks.

Richard Jr. "Butch" and his wife Carla live in Tyrone, Terry and wife Kathy in Scranton, Dennis and wife Nanette in New Jersey, and Deborah and husband Craig Johnston in Fairfield. They will be in town to celebrate the milestone anniversary.

"It's been a fun life," concluded Marcia.