Couple renews vows 50 years later at nursing home - KAIT-Jonesboro, AR-News, weather, sports

Couple renews vows 50 years later at nursing home

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POCAHONTAS, AR (KAIT) – A nursing home is one of the last places you would think to hold a wedding, but that's exactly where one couple from Pocahontas decided to renew their vows on their golden anniversary.

The bride and groom did not have much choice in venue, but the Gipsons would not have had it any other way.

When Conie and Peggy Gipson first walked down the aisle in 1964, they had no ceremony. Instead of a wedding, they simply said ‘I do' at their preacher's house.

"I tell everybody if there is such a thing as a perfect marriage, our marriage is perfect," Conie said. "It seemed like we just knew we were made for each other. She was 16, and I was 18 when we got married."

Fifty years later now, they finally had the wedding they always wanted, but, this time, they exchanged vows at the Randolph County Nursing Home in Pocahontas.

Both Conie and Peggy previously worked at the nursing home, and they've come to know the staff members there more as family members than coworkers.

"They were always together," Dewanda Dooley, the nursing home social director, said about the couple. "Anytime you saw one, you always saw the other. You never saw them apart. They were always together."

Conie recently had to move his wife into the nursing home so that she could recover from leg surgery. She's also facing a cancer prognosis that has progressively gotten worse.

"I couldn't care for her at home," Conie said, "so I said we're going to put you in a rehab. She said well, let's go where all my friends and family are, so I brought her here."

When the staff found out the Gipsons wanted to renew their vows for their 50th anniversary, they decided to all pitch in and throw the first wedding they've ever hosted at the nursing home.

"We would have done this for whomever," said Paula Swift, the nursing home's administrator, "but Conie and Peg are very special to us. They said they wanted to do it and with all the circumstances we just wanted to get in there and help them."

In just three days, the staff transformed the dining area into a chapel and a reception area complete with brightly-colored flowers and a lighted arch. Peggy's family members also got her the white wedding dress she'd never worn. With her family members and friends surrounding her, she came down the aisle in her hospital bed Saturday to reaffirm her love to the man she's known more than 50 years.

Emotions ran high, as attendees passed around boxes of tissue and wiped away tears throughout the ceremony. Some said they could not contain their emotions witnessing a love that's only grown stronger with time.

"I just wish everybody that gets married could be as happy as we have been after 50 years," Conie said. "I mean, I love her now, like her now even after 50 years. That has never, never grown cold. We've done everything together, and we've communicated.

"It's a God thing," he added, "and I appreciate her every day more now than I did when I was younger."

After the pastor told him that he could kiss the bride, Conie turned to the crowd and said, "I'd do it another 50 if I could."

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