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Secret of their 66 years of marriage is ‘hard work’

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Secret of their 66 years of marriage is ‘hard work’

Elizabeth Manson, right, and husband Charles in the background, welcome Sister Ann Venita Britto who brought them Holy Communion at their home. The Mansons were former Eucharistic ministers at St. ...

ROSE ALBANO RISSO/The Bulletin


POSTED February 11, 2012 1:20 a.m.

RIPON – The measure of love is to love without measure, according to St. Francis de Sales.

For Charles and Elizabeth Manson, it’s probably more appropriate to say that the measure of love is to laugh without measure.

 Even after 66 years of marriage – 67 in December – the Mansons have not lost their sense of humor. Their conversations are often punctuated with contented smiles and laughter, especially when they talk about how they met and the early days of their married life.

It was fate that made their paths cross during World War II when the Massachusetts-born Charles was assigned to Treasure Island on the West Coast. He was deployed on the aircraft carrier USS Hornet during the war.

At a social event in the Bay Area, Charles was supposed to meet a lady friend. The woman happened to be a friend of Elizabeth who also attended the gathering but didn’t know Charles at that time. Fate intervened when the lady who was supposed to be Charles’ date for the evening failed to show up and he was introduced to Elizabeth. And that was the beginning of a beautiful relationship that produced four sons and seven grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren to date.

On top of a china cabinet in the family room of the Mansons’ home in the toni golf neighborhood of Spring Creek in Ripon is a miniature replica of a church completely made out of wood. Elizabeth said the church was that of the old St. Anthony Catholic Church in Oakland, where she was born and raised, and was made by her late father.

“That’s where we were married,” Elizabeth said of the church highlighted by a pair of towering spires.

“We’re working on 67 years,” she said of their wedding anniversary that will take place in December.

“We got married just as the war ended,” she said.

They are both marking their 91st birthdays this year, but Elizabeth likes to point out laughing and with eyes twinkling, “he married an older woman.”

She’s not exactly talking about a May-December situation – hardly. But she is really amused to point out that she will be 91 in April, and “he’ll be 91 in September. Like I told you, he married the old woman,” she added, her earlier giggle turning into an all-out laughter.

On not being blessed with a daughter and raising four boys, Elizabeth said, “I wouldn’t trade one for a bunch of them (girls).” One of their boys graduated from Stanford and is an electrical engineer who now lives with his family in Texas. Another son is in management at one of the major casinos in Tahoe.

Like many wives in those days, “I was a homemaker,” Elizabeth said. “I stayed home and raised my family.”

She later worked at the old Providence Hospital in Oakland “when the kids got older” and worked her way up to a management position. During World War II, she worked at the hospital as a volunteer nurse’s aide.

When Charles got out of service after the war, he went to work for Shell Oil. After working for 20 years at the company’s plant in Emeryville near Berkeley, he was transferred to Huston, Texas.

“We were there for 10 years,” Charles said of his stint in the Lone Star state.

When that assignment was over, “we came back here in the valley,” Elizabeth said, and Charles went to work for Shell Oil in Salida.

They soon found a house in Ripon “and we’ve been here for the last 30 years,” Elizabeth said.

They both like Ripon “very much,” she said.

Charles is an avid gardener, and his green thumb is evident in the flowering plants in the front yard and back-yard gardens, as well as the potted plants inside the house. A robust giant begonia potted in the living room is living proof of the pampering it receives from Charles who dutifully turns the planter around each time so all sides of the plant get equal exposure to the sun coming in from the large window in the living room.

Elizabeth’s contribution to their home décor is a collection of art works that include charcoal etchings and oil paintings. Her still-life fruit and vegetable oils are on the walls in the kitchen. Scenic oils that include seascapes, wooded scenes and floral arrangements brighten up the walls in the Mansons’ airy and spacious living room.

Both staunch Catholics, the Mansons were also longtime volunteers at St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church in Manteca. They were both Eucharistic ministers for many years. But these days, physical constraints don’t allow them to do that on a regular basis anymore. Instead, they receive Holy Communion at home brought by church volunteers including Minister of Caring coordinator, Sister Ann Venita Britto.

As to their secret of a long marriage, Elizabeth was quick to point out, ‘You work hard at it. Give and take, I guess. You have your moments, but we worked hard at it.”



— Rose Albano Risso
city editor

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