Wed | Sep 19, 2018

Lloyd and Sheila Dennis madly in love after 60 years

Published:Sunday | September 9, 2018 | 12:00 AM
Lloyd and Sheila Dennis..
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After 60 years of marriage, Lloyd and Sheila Dennis are still passionately in love with each other.

The couple who 'tied the knot' on July 30, 1958, to this day, openly display their affection much to the delight of younger and aspiring couples.

The Dennises celebrated their 60th anniversary on Sunday, July 29, with family, friends and well-wishers, during the renewal of vows ceremony at Paradise Ocean View, Black River, St Elizabeth.

Pastor Leon Wellington, retired vice-president of the Inter-American Division of Seventh-day Adventists, officiated in the ceremony, during which the rather vibrant couple serenaded each other during the exchange of their vows.

"Oh, Rose Marie, I love you," sang Lloyd, borrowing the words of Slim Whitman, "I'm always dreaming of you," he continued, "Of all the queens that ever lived, I choose you to rule me, my Rose Marie."

Sheila, with a melodious entry, responded to the musical call of her 'king'... "I'd liked the world to know" she began with lines from Michael Holliday, "the moment when your lips met mine and that first exciting time I held you close to me, the sorrow when our love was breakin' up, the mem'ry of a broken heart, an' later on, the joy of makin' up never, never more to part."

 

How They Met

 

Lloyd, who is 86, a former egg farmer and Sheila 81, a former primary-school teacher, reflected on how they met.

Mr Dennis met his bride while serving on missionary duties in the Southfield area of St Elizabeth.

"While attending the Bellevue Seventh-day Adventist Church, I began to observe Sheila," he said as he lovingly reflected.

"She was serving as a Sabbath School Superintendent (leader) at the time and I heard a voice that said to me, 'That's your wife'!"

Lloyd went on to do his own investigations, while praying for God's approval on the matter. After some time, he presented his proposition to the parents of his bride-to-be and they agreed with the relationship. But that soon changed when the proposal for marriage was advanced; Sheila's parents were reluctant. However, Lloyd, being a determined bachelor, persisted, and challenged that the only way they would not get married, is if Sheila's parents sent her to England to study. Unknown to her parents, was the fact that he was also making arrangements to travel to the United Kingdom.

After a few months overseas, Lloyd and Sheila tied the knot. Upon their return to Jamaica, Shiela's parents were very much welcoming to the young couple.

"It was almost as if nothing had happened and my relationship with them was very good," said Lloyd.

The occasion was fitting for the Diamond Couple with an all-white theme that was accentuated with gold trimmings and letterings on the background drapes and the tables. Lloyd donned a full-white suit and gloves, with his wife was robed in a beautiful bridal gown, commemorating the moment they first exchanged vows.

Among the guests who shared in the celebration was the Governor General of Jamaica, His Excellency the Most Honourable Sir Patrick. His Excellency is a former college mate of Sheila. He, too, joined in celebrating as he raised a toast acknowledging the couple's invaluable contribution to the New Road Community, the Seventh-day Adventist Church, and their own family.

"She was so outstanding, very vocal, strong, committed, courageous and sincere," said Sir Patrick, as he reflected on their days in school. He noted on behalf of Lady Allen, who was also in attendance, that Sheila, over the years, has been "energetic and always wanted things to be done decently and in order".

"The voice has not changed over the years," the Governor General continued. "We are very proud of this couple, so strong and fervent in their commitment."

The Minister of National Security, Dr Horace Chang, was also in attendance and saluted the dynamic duo. A childhood friend of Lloyd, he was very liberal in his tribute.

"This country needs many more Lloyd and Sheila Dennises," he asserted.

"It is the kind of family that Jamaica needs more of. They are not just rooted in the community and in the church, but they are hardworking, honest, and productive people ... real role models for Jamaicans! Sixty years in a marriage, in today's age, is something to be treasured."

He also noted Sheila's contribution to the New Road Primary and Junior School, where she served as a teacher for many years.

"You can see it in my smile, that I am happy" said Mrs Dennis, as the couple responded to the acknowledgements.

"I have often said, if it should happen that I should choose (a husband) again, it would be him. It is not that he is a perfect man, but he is a man of principle and he loves [sincerely]."

The senior couple, from New Road, St Elizabeth, demonstrates that with the burning candle of time, they have only been consumed by their desire to honour, respect and fulfill each other's intimate and spiritual needs. The throes of marriage sometimes are intensified by the inability of couples to handle conflicts. However, Lloyd shared a simple formula to deal with such instances, that would be of value to any couple, especially younger ones.

"We don't keep malice," said Mr Dennis. "Whatever we have to say, we'll say it," he quipped.

He went on to note the significance of spirituality as a vital part of sustaining decades of filial affection.

"We make sure to have devotion, every evening and morning. We are determined by God's grace to make heaven our home."

The greatest confirmation of genuine mutual affection, comes from within the home and the children are the best witnesses of this kind of display.

"Mommy was submissive," said Tamari the couple's third child. "Though she was independent and powerful; she was not suppressed. Daddy was the priest, provider and one who honoured our mother. Mommy honoured her husband as well and was a very good homemaker."

Lloyd and Sheila are founding members of the New Road and Ashton Seventh-day Adventist Churches and have been heavily involved in church-life for more years than the duration of their marriage.

They were honoured by the New Road community, members of their Church, their children, the Inter-American Division of Seventh-day Adventists and the Jamaica Union Conference of Seventh-day Adventists.

Between 2012 and 2017, the Statistical Institute of Jamaica pointed to the sad reality of marriages being on the decline, and divorce on the steady increase. Though this fact indicates the decline in the general populace's interest to engage in marriage, Lloyd and Sheila's marriage is a testimony that marriage still works - even after 60 years!