A 70th wedding anniversary is a pretty rare event to celebrate. Only a small number of married couples are fortunate enough (or love well enough) to arrive at that red-letter day, much less to celebrate it with friends and family on beautiful Fort Myers Beach. Just such an occasion was celebrated recently at Chloe's Restaurant in DiamondHead Beach Resort on Sunday Feb. 23, by long time snow-birds and love-birds Bill and Helen Aitken from Terre Haute, Indiana.
Their daughter Judy from Tampa arranged a surprise party with the help of beach friends and the fantastic staff at Chloe's. The host breezed past a long table set for the party and seated Bill and Helen with two conspiring friends at a table with a beautiful view of the beach. Moments later, family and friends arrived and great-granddaughter Addison sauntered up from behind to bring big smiles all around as the surprise unfolded.
To back up a bit, the story began on Feb. 24, 1944 at Parris Island, South Carolina. With the war in Europe raging in the background, a young man just out of dental school and his lovely young bride exchanged vows before the base chaplain. Ten years and two children later in 1954, Bill and Helen first visited Fort Myers Beach, then known as Estero Island. From Parris Island to Estero Island, it just came naturally. A third child was born, completing the family and it became a family tradition to take the children out of school for two weeks in February to vacation on Fort Myers Beach. Bill hand-crafted his own travel trailer and the family made the annual trek to Estero Island to stay at the Red Coconut RV Resort for the weekly fee of $2.50 plus electricity. The Aitkens recall visits to many resorts on the beach but the Red Coconut is still there and still very popular, though prices have gone up some since the 1950s!
The Aitkens have celebrated 70 years together.
In recent years Bill and Helen have enjoyed returning to Estero Cove every February for not just two weeks but two months. They continue to enjoy the many friends they have made over the years, and are still active golfers. Bill says that despite her low-vision, Helen can still hit a golf ball right down the middle, so long as he helps her set up. Well that's what a good marriage is all about: Teamwork! And what a team they are! We wish them a Happy 70th Anniversary and look forward to seeing them on the beach next year. Look for them under the umbrella at their favorite beach access #16 at Dakota Street!