Couple Recall A Wedding That Was Meant To Be

Publish Date:

Monday, February 4, 2008

Category:

News Organization:

Worcester Telegram & Gazette

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LEOMINSTER —  Walter and Nellie (Bevilacqua) Barbaresi celebrated their 72nd wedding anniversary Friday with a special dinner at their residence, Sunrise Assisted Living.

They were married on Feb. 1, 1936, at St. John’s Church, Clinton.

Despite the longevity of their marriage, the Barbaresis had no particular secrets to share, but they emphasize that family has always been very important to them.

Told that their photograph was about to be taken, Mr. Barbaresi, 96, didn’t hesitate to swing his arm over his wife’s shoulder.

They smiled and posed, waiting patiently as one photograph after another was taken.

Recollecting memories of more than seven decades, Mrs. Barbaresi said the weather on their wedding day was “cold, but it was really beautiful.” Her wedding dress wasn’t handmade, she said; it had been bought in Worcester. The couple had a small wedding, and a reception at the Bevilacqua home, with food prepared by the women of the family.

After dinner, they said, all of the furniture — except for the piano — was removed from the living and dining rooms to make way for dancing.

They spent their first night as husband and wife at the Bancroft Hotel, Worcester.

The next day, they boarded a train headed for New York City, but ended up in Bridgeport, Conn., where they spent the remainder of the honeymoon with her uncle and his family.

They had run out of money.

Mr. Barbaresi said it was a good thing the couple had received some money for their wedding, for otherwise they would not have been able to get back to Clinton.

The town would be their home for many years.

Mr. Barbaresi was proprietor of the Army & Navy Store in Clinton from 1948 to 1978.

He also worked at the International Golf Club in Bolton from 1978 to 2001.

Mrs. Barbaresi worked at her husband’s store, as a forelady in a plastics factory, and as a head teller for the former Worcester County National Bank.

They have two children, Patricia James and Donna Cronin. Mrs. James and her husband, George, of Leominster, and Mrs. Cronin and her husband, Walt, of Warwick, R.I., attended the dinner party.

Both of their daughters said their parents were active members of the community, as well as being very family-oriented.

Mr. and Mrs. Barbaresi were members of St. John’s Church. Mr. Barbaresi was one of the collectors of donations during Masses at the church until 2006, and he was leader of the church ushers.

He is also a 4th-degree member of the Knights of Columbus.

For many years, Mrs. Barbaresi was very active in the church.

She is a member of the St. John’s knitters and quilters and has made many items over the years, such as blankets, for family members, friends and various charities.

She was also a member of the Clinton Hospital Guild and, until 2005, worked polls on Election Day at Clinton Town Hall.

Although the couple has been married for 72 years, they’ve known each other even longer — both were born in South Ashburnham.

Their families came from the same town in Italy and, as was the custom, immigrant families settled near one another in their adopted homeland.

Mr. Barbaresi’s family, however, moved back to Italy when he was 3 years old.

Mrs. Barbaresi’s family stayed in this country and eventually ended up in Clinton, where her father found work first at the Wachusett Reservoir and then at Bigelow Carpet Mills.

While in Italy, Mr. Barbaresi’s family was hit by tragedy. His mother died during the influenza epidemic and his father died of typhoid three years later.

Orphaned at the age of 8, he and his brother were sent to live with their grandmother.

However, these were troubled times in Italy. As Mussolini rose to power, Mr. Barbaresi’s grandmother was concerned that her young grandsons — barely teen-agers — would be conscripted into the Italian army.

So she sent the two of them back to the United States, where they had been born.

They made their way to Clinton to live with Mrs. Barbaresi’s family — the Bevilacquas.

“I guess it was just meant to be,” said their daughter, Donna Cronin.

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