By Jessica Able, Record Staff Writer
James and Ann Hartman met when they were teenagers growing up in the West End in the 1940s.
“I liked her from the first time I saw her,” James Hartman, 92, said in an interview last week.
What struck Ann, 89, initially was “his looks, mostly,” she said with a grin. “And his personality. He was so sweet and gentle.”
The couple — who are parishioners of Holy Family Church — celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary on June 7.
The Hartmans were one of 121 couples who renewed their vows at the annual Wedding Anniversary Mass Oct. 22 at the Cathedral of the Assumption, 433 S. Fifth Street.
The liturgy, which was celebrated by Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz, honored couples celebrating 30, 40, 50 and 60-plus years of marriage in 2017.
The Mass is sponsored by the archdiocese’s Family Ministries Office, one of the 100 or so services and agencies supported by the Catholic Services Appeal.
During the liturgy, Archbishop Kurtz said the anniversary Mass is an opportunity for the “whole church to give thanks for the gift of married life that God has given to you.”
The gift of marriage, the archbishop said, is not private.
“It’s personal, very personal. But it’s also very public,” he said. “It is a gift meant to be witnessed.”
The archbishop told the married couples gathered that the church needs them.
“Today, as in every age, we need you. We need your witness of married love,” he said.
The archbishop recalled an address Pope Francis gave in October of 2013 in Assisi, Italy. The pontiff said the advice he always gives to newlyweds is this: “Argue as much as you like. If the plates fly, let them! But never end the day without making peace! Never!”
“That gift of forgiveness and understanding even in the midst of difficulties is the greatest witness of your married love,” the archbishop said.
The Hartmans said one thing they agreed to early on was to never argue. And, it seems to have served the couple well.
“It’s (the marriage) lasted, so I guess it’s worked,” said Ann Hartman during an interview at her home last week. “There has to be a lot of love or it wouldn’t work out. You have to learn how to give and take.”
The two married on June 7, 1947, at the old St. Anthony Church on West Market Street.
James Hartman, who served in the Navy from 1943 to 1946 in the South Pacific, worked at the Naval Ordnance Station for 35 years. Ann Hartman focused on raising the couple’s three children — Linda, James and Janice. The Hartmans now have six grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
The couple, who live a stone’s throw from Holy Family, said their married life — and family life — have centered around their parish.
“It was very convenient to live across from the church. We were both brought up Catholic and we raised our three kids over there,” Ann Hartman said.
The two have volunteered for just about every ministry the parish has to offer, they said. James Hartman served on the parish council and as one of the organizers of the parish picnic. Ann Hartman served on the altar society and in the school cafeteria.
Ann Hartman still volunteers with the Little Sisters of the Poor, where she makes beds a couple days a week.
“It’s been a fun ride,” she said.