It was standing room only Saturday as nine couples, celebrating more than 500 years of marriage combined, renewed their vows at a senior living community in the Foothills.

Atria Campana del Rio hosted the celebration for the residents. The women carried rose bouquets and the men had boutonnieres pinned to their lapels.

The mood was celebratory in the large dining room as a wedding singer serenaded the couples, though the couple who had been married the longest, had to bow out at the last minute due to illness. An evening dinner-dance featured a seven-piece swing band, a wedding cake, champagne and a chocolate fountain.

Between vows and well-wishes the couples talked about how they met and why their marriages have lasted:

Les and Ernestine McQuary

Married: 77 years

Ages: He's 97. She's 96.

How they met: At a dance club in Missouri when they were in high school.

"We were attracted to each other from the very beginning," he said. "She's been a wonderful wife and a wonderful mother. I couldn't get along without her."

"I love him," she said.

Ray and Josephine Cacciatore

Married: 66 years

Ages: He's 90. She's 87.

How they met: They grew up next door to each other.

"He went into the service and asked me to be his girl," she said.

"We never thought we'd ever be separated," he said.

George and Gloria Blin

Married: 66 years

Ages: He's 92. He's 86.

How they met: She was in high school in Minnesota when she decided to write to the sons and brothers of friends and neighbors serving in World War II.

"I wrote to him for 19 months while he was in the service," she said. "Nineteen months later he came home. Nineteen months later we got married. Nineteen months later we had a baby," she said.

"All the love letters we sent back and forth. She made up her mind I was it," he said.

Louis and Denise Caurant

Married: 64 years

Ages: He's 87. She's 82.

How they met: In France, where she attended school with his sisters and they would all go out dancing.

"We get along fine. I was a good cook," she said.

"I want to hold onto her as long as possible," he said.

Forrest and Joan Wild

Married: 59 years

Ages: He's 87. She's 79.

How they met: "We were at a dance. He was with his friends and I was with mine," she said. "We had a few dances and that was the beginning of our friendship," she said.

"I liked what I saw," he said.

George and Doris Haller

Married: 57 years

Ages: He's 81. She's 76.

How they met: On a blind date at a drive-in movie in New Jersey set up by their best friends.

"It was love at first sight for me. I felt like I knew him before in another life," she said, adding that laughter is the key to their long marriage.

"I took her to China on our 25th anniversary," he said, "and I came back and got her on our 50th."

Tom and Medith Benavidez

Married: 56 years

Ages: He's 78. She's 74.

How they met: He was a mine worker in San Manuel when he had his first movie date with his future wife.

"My girlfriend brought me and her boyfriend brought him. It was a blind date. They fooled us both," she said.

"It was a date. You make the best of it," he said.

Frank and Margery Bush

Married: 56 years

Ages: He's 80. She's 76.

How they met: He was dating her friend. Eventually they discovered they had more in common. Their first date was at a nightclub casino in Buffalo, N.Y.

The key to a long, happy marriage, she said: "Love and affection."

"And understanding," he added.

Lawrence and Cynthia Hafter

Married: 36 years

Ages: He's 84. She's 59.

How they met: On a break from her studies at Arizona State University, she traveled to Tucson, where they met at a party.

"I knew the minute we danced something was different," he said. "I just knew this woman was going to marry me. She is the light of my life. She is a joy to me beyond description and I love her."

"And that goes ditto for me," she said.

Contact reporter Kimberly Matas at or at 573-4191.