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September 22, 2017

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Retirement community toasts couples’ combined 937 years of marriage


Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun

Pastor Dan Newburn officiates during a wedding vow renewal ceremony at Las Ventanas Wednesday, June 6, 2012.

Wedding Vow Renewal

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Couples hold hands during a wedding vow renewal ceremony at Las Ventanas Wednesday, June 6, 2012.

When Marilyn Steege traveled to Nellis Air Force Base with the Clark County Sheriff’s Office for a training session in the 1970s, she met a strapping young airman named Herb.

Herb, taken with Marilyn, wasted no time in asking her out that night.

On Wednesday, the couple celebrated 40 years of marriage, surrounded by friends and neighbors at the Las Ventanas retirement community in Summerlin.

“I thought she was pretty attractive, so that was a start,” Herb Steege said of his decision to ask his future wife on a date.

In all, 16 couples who have been married a combined 937 years celebrated their marriages Wednesday during a vow renewal ceremony at Las Ventanas.

Led by Pastor Dan Newberg, the couples reaffirmed their love for each other while listening to old Frank Sinatra and Elvis Presley tunes before posing for pictures in a mock chapel that had been set up in the community’s theater.

“Join hands, preferably with your wife,” Newberg joked as he started the ceremony. “Nothing is easier than saying words; nothing is harder than living them day after day. What you promise today must be renewed and redecided tomorrow.”

To celebrate 70 years of marriage, Herb Lowe serenaded his wife, Bonnie, with his own rendition of the Rat Pack classic “Tangerine.”

“Someone told me, ‘There’s a real good-looking girl you’ve got to meet,’” Lowe said of his introduction to Bonnie.

Patty Allsbrook, lifestyle director at Las Ventanas, said the community has played host to the vow renewal for its residents about once every five years.

“If you do it too often, it loses its meaning,” Allsbrook said. “This is about celebrating the great moments together.”

Most of the couples at the ceremony were celebrating 60-plus years of marriage, making Thomas and Marianne Bell — who have been married 14 years — relative newlyweds for the crowd.

The two met when they were neighbors in Lake Havasu, Ariz. After years passing each other on the sidewalks and slowly getting to know one another, the two wed at the Little White Wedding Chapel in Las Vegas.

Although the two met later in life — both had been married previously — during their relationship they discovered they had a tie that dates to the 1940s.

Thomas Bell survived Nazi concentration camps as a child, while Marianne Bell spent her youth growing up on the other side of the war as a German citizen.

Both later came to the United States and ended up as neighbors.

“It’s strange how life evolves,” Thomas Bell said. “When I met (Marianne), she was very friendly, outgoing, talkative. Just fun to be around.”

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