Shirley Metzler could only smile.
She had wondered why a white limousine pulled up to her home in Ransomville earlier in the day. The drive to the Buffalo & Erie County Botanical Gardens puzzled her, too.
But by around 3 o’clock Monday afternoon, it all added up.
“We are here for a reason,” Metzler’s husband, Melvin, told her as they sat at a table for two inside a greenhouse.
Before Shirley knew it, Melvin, dressed in a black suit, was down on one knee, grasping her right hand and popping the same question he asked so long ago.
Sixty years to the day after the couple said “I do,” Melvin got another “yes” from the love of his life.
The re-engagement wasn’t the only anniversary surprise, though.
Seated in front of a gazebo outside the greenhouse were more than a dozen family members, including the couple’s four daughters, ready to watch Melvin and Shirley Metzler renew their wedding vows.
“By the authority vested in me by the State of New York, I do now declare they are husband and wife ... still,” said Town of Porter Justice Wayne Pollow, drawing a round of laughs amid the touching ceremony.
After receiving the cue, the new groom kissed his new bride, rekindling some memories of July 14, 1954, in San Diego.
Two of Melvin and Shirley’s daughters live in Colorado and made the trip to Western New York for the special day. Monday also was the 35th wedding anniversary for their daughter and son-in-law, Melody and Tim Curry, of Ransomville.
The Metzlers, who own a small farm in Ransomville and have lived there for more than 40 years, have eight grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren. Since retirement, they have enjoyed travelling in their motor home.
“We just came back from Florida ... because I knew this was happening; she didn’t,” Melvin said.
Shirley never saw it coming.
“It was a big shock. He didn’t tell me much of anything – just that we were going out to dinner,” she said as Melvin chuckled away. “Then the limo pulled up. I have never been in a limo. I said, ‘This must be for somebody else,’ but it was for us. ... The whole thing was a surprise.”
Melvin grew up in Bellefonte, Pa., before his family moved to Niagara Falls. A four-sport athlete at Trott Vocational High School who once had plans of playing professional baseball, he is a member of the Niagara Falls Sports Hall of Fame. He served in the Navy and was stationed at San Diego when he married the former Shirley Taylor, a native of Bergholz. She met Melvin after she broke up with his best friend. (The men did remain close friends.)
When asked what the secret to a strong marriage is, Melvin and Shirley initially responded with one word each.
She said tolerance; He said love.
She liked his answer better.
“Love, that’s the main thing,” Shirley said. “And respect for each other. You’ve gotta have love. I can’t imagine life without him – I really can’t. It’s been a great ride.”