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Senior couple shares their happiness in marriage, life at Michaud Manor

Rose and Alec Quarmby met when they were both 20 while they were in the British Army in World War II; she was a cook, and he was an infantryman who took part in D-Day.

It was at a Saturday night dance that they met. "I liked the way he danced," Rose said. "He was quite a dancer."

Though the Tango was her favorite, she also liked the fox trot and waltz, but most of all she liked dancing with Alec.

They were married in a bombed out church on Nov. 30, 1946. They emigrated to the United States in 1952 to live in Norwalk, Conn., near Rose's sister, Enid, who had married an American.

Alec worked for the Board of Education as a maintenance engineer.

The parents of a son and a daughter and the adopted parents of a son, they moved to California in the mid 1970s and were foster parents to hundreds of children in need. Sometimes they had as many as six children at a time. "I think I fell in love with all of them," Rose said.

She and Alec have three grandchildren and six great-grandchildren, and their love for children continues.

The couple moved to Vermont in the mid 1980s to be near their family, first living in Barre then in Barton and then Derby.

They moved a year ago to Michaud Memorial Manor in Derby Line, one of the Level III Care homes run by the Diocese of Burlington. There they share a room and enjoy the camaraderie they have found with staff and other residents. "They are very kind to us," Rose said.

Both 90, she attends Bible study; he likes to read. Together they join in activities like attending children's shows at the home and luncheon outings, and despite a "gummy leg," she still dances with her husband when the opportunity arises.

"Mom and Dad have always been independent," said their son, Donovan, of Derby. But when they began "showing signs of slowing down," the family found Michaud Manor and its "awesome" level of care.

"I can sleep at night" knowing [my] parents are safe and happy in their home, he said. "I'm so happy we found this place."

He credits Vermont Catholic Charities Inc. for "setting the model for how to run a facility like this and how to administer patient care."

About 30 residents live at Michaud Manor. There is a resident priest, Father Charles Davignon, a senior priest of the Diocese of Burlington, who lives there and celebrates Masses in the chapel.

Asked the reason for their long marriage, Rose said she and her husband like the same things: people and dancing. Plus, he has a terrific sense of humor.

"And she has an infectious laugh," he said of his wife.

"You can't want your own way all the time," she continued. "You have to take care of each other."

"She keeps me on the straight and narrow," he said with a twinkle in his eye. But, turning serious, he credited the success of their marriage to working together and discussing things before taking action.

"She's a very nice, understanding person. She has helped me a lot in my life. She is a good wife and a good mother," he concluded.

Rose believes in the importance of prayer and in helping others. "I learned from God that we should help people instead of just thinking about ourselves," she said. "It's a good feeling if you can help" others.

She enjoys helping others when she can at Michaud Manor, and she appreciates how she and her husband are treated there. "They make you feel wanted," she said, stretching out her arm and adding, "Look, I'm getting goose pimples" talking about the fine care. "People here are kindness itself."
  • Published in Diocesan
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