“They said, ‘Are you ready to see your bride?’ and took the blindfold off. He had just the biggest smile the rest of the day,” Their daughter stated.
This bride didn't have a gown or photographer on her wedding day. A hospice caregiver helped her redo it, 77 years later. https://t.co/ipqZ9Dk1RQ— CBS News (@CBSNews) October 14, 2021
When Frankie King married her high school sweetheart, Royce, in 1944, she didn’t have time to find a wedding dress, much less a photographer. Because Royce was only given a two-day leave before heading overseas for his military assignment, the couple only had a few days to prepare for their wedding.
Their daughter, Sue Bilodeau, told CBS News that “He was stationed as a lieutenant in the Air Force… he just got his pilot wings,” “He got a short leave. They had been engaged about six months, so they decided to have a wedding before he was deployed overseas.” Royce returned to their small town of Oelwein, Iowa, and married the love of his life before enlisting in the military to serve in World War II. The couple had two children were married for 77 years during the next seven decades.
Frankie and Royce are still living in Oelwein, Iowa, and are being cared for by a hospice nurse from St. Croix Hospice, who is looking after them. On September 16, the nurse asked 97-yearold Frankie if she had any wedding photos from their 77th anniversary, and she said she didn’t have any.
Sue said, “And mom said, ‘Well, we don’t have a picture because we actually didn’t have a photographer that day,'”
For her own personal reasons, she then decided to replicate Frankie’s and Royce’s wedding day at St. Croix Hospice. This time, they made sure Frankie wore a stunning bridal gown.
A vintage 1940s gown for Frankie and the identical Air Force outfit Royce wore on his wedding day seven decades ago were both used in the recreation of their big day.
Her mother’s wedding dress had to be put on by Sue, and she remarked, “…It was really sweet and touching, how she looked at herself in the gown. She said, ‘should I wear my glasses or not? I didn’t have glasses that day.’ And I said, ‘Wear your glasses, you’re beautiful this way.'” Royce was waiting for his wife outside in the backyard on that sunny day with a handkerchief held over his eyes for the ‘first look.’
“They said, ‘Are you ready to see your bride?’ and took the blindfold off,” Sue recounted. “He had just the biggest smile the rest of the day. It was amazing.”
Staff at the hospice were also thrilled to put together a gift for the elderly couple that was so personal. Heath Bartness, CEO of St. Croix Hospice, asked, “How can you not have a sense of overwhelming emotion?” “The connectivity you almost feel that you were a part of this, and thinking back to what it was like in World War II the first time, and how meaningful and how emotional this second opportunity to do this was. There’s an overwhelming sense of pride in not just the company and what the organization did, but more so just as an act of humanity.”
Sue expressed her gratitude to CBS News for staging a recreation of her parents’ wedding day “Something to take away [from this story] would be, they’ve been through a lot—as anybody does—year after year. And through struggles and good times, they’ve managed to find a way to put their love and devotion above everything else to make it work.”
Cover image source: St. Croix Hospice/Facebook