ARLINGTON — On May 1, there was no party or festive affair, but J.W. “Jack” and Joyce Booth quietly celebrated a milestone together, as a married couple of 71 years.
Jack is set to turn 92 years old on Oct. 2, while Joyce looks forward to blowing out 90 candles on her birthday cake on Nov. 30. The two met in Los Angeles before getting married on May 1, 1942, and lived there for the 51 years that followed, before moving to Arlington, although World War II did interrupt their life together for a few years.
Jack Booth received a Bronze Star as an Army master sergeant in Company B of the 94th Signal Battalion for his meritorious service from Dec. 1, 1944, to May 8, 1945, during which he supervised the installation of local communications networks overseas. During the expansion of the Remagen Bridgehead across the Rhine River in Germany, he worked under extensive enemy artillery and air bombardment.
“Emotionally, my military life ran the gauntlet from deepest despair to complete euphoria,” Jack Booth said. “Now, looking back, I can only say, ‘I wouldn’t have missed it for anything, but please don’t call on me again.’”
Kristen Barberis, Jack and Joyce’s granddaughter, deemed this quote an example of her grandfather’s wonderful sense of humor.
Besides their granddaughter, Jack and Joyce have one daughter, Pamela, who lives in Stanwood, and one son, Philip, who lives with them in Arlington.
“Philip helps Jack care for our five acres,” said Joyce Booth, a soft-spoken woman who credits her Christianity with helping her maintain “good health and good thoughts,” as well as her marriage to Jack for 71 years. “I’ve always said, if you have the same religion and the same politics, you’re okay as a couple,” she laughed. “That’ll do it.”
Jack and Joyce have stayed active and healthy into their shared old age by watching their diets and refraining from smoking or drinking, and Joyce still recalls what drew her to Jack so many years ago.
“We were just kids,” Joyce Booth said. “He was fun-loving, but always a gentleman, and that’s exactly what I was looking for.”