Alice and Frank Setash met at a wiener roast in Cleveland, Ohio, on the beach at Lake Erie. It was spring 1955, they were in their early 20s and both had just gotten out of the Army.
Now, four children, 11 grandchildren and half a century later, this Virginia Run couple has been married 50 years. And the Setashes celebrated this landmark event at their home, last Saturday, July 1, with a gala party for some 40 friends, neighbors and relatives.
"We had people here from Pennsylvania, Ohio, California and Florida," said Frank. "We really enjoyed it." Their three sons, one daughter and their spouses put it all together and, said Alice, "They threw a beautiful party for us." However, she added, "There are 21 [people] in the immediate family, so that's a party by itself."
Both Frank and Alice served in the Army during the Korean War. "He was drafted; I enlisted," she said. "I was working for a mean boss, and my girlfriend and I heard a radio commercial saying, 'Ladies, join the Army,' so we did."
She served two years, stationed mainly at West Point, N.Y., and he spent his two years at Fort Knox, Ky. "But we didn't meet until afterward," said Alice. "We were both from Cleveland, and friends invited each of us to the wiener roast. We just kind of clicked, and that was it."
She said Frank was a college man attending Ohio State then and she was impressed by how much he knew. "He was also a lot of fun and planned all the parties," she said. "And besides, he was handsome — and he had a full head of hair." Frank said they had a mutual attraction. "She had a good personality," he said. "And we had lots in common."
They married on June 9, 1956 and Frank became a computer programmer. In 1994, he retired from his job of systems analyst and computer-security officer for HUD.
The Setashes also raised a loving and close-knit family. Daughter Julieann Weston now lives in Virginia Run with her husband Tom and their four children, as does son Eric with his wife Mary and their three children. Son Frank Jr., his wife Sylvia and their two children live in Occoquan, and son Mark, his wife Kathy and their two children live in Newtown, Pa.
And the whole slew of them, plus two of Frank's sisters and two of Alice's sisters, attended the 50th-anniversary party. It was a catered affair under a large tent — complete with chandelier — in the couple's backyard on July 1. They waited until that date because school would be out and more out-of-town guests could attend on Fourth of July weekend.
It wasn't a surprise party, though. "I'd planned a small get-together for a few friends," said Alice. "And when the children found out, they told us they were planning something." Frank said the party was terrific.
"They played songs from the 1950s through modern day," he said. "Our son Mark recorded all the music we liked from the '50s and '60s — including Tony Bennett, Frank Sinatra, Mario Lanza and music from the musical, 'The Student Prince' — and we played Name that Tune. And each grandchild announced each new decade's songs."
One grandson read a poem by Robert Frost, and Frank gave each grandchild a 2006 silver dollar — "proof silver eagles from the mint," he said. And the next morning, the Omelet Man came from Maryland and made omelets for everyone.
All in all, it was a wonderful celebration, and the family also gave Alice and Frank a special quilt with all their children's and grandchildren's photos on it. "I'm going to put it in our family room above the couch," said Alice. "It's too beautiful not to show."
When not celebrating their anniversary, the couple enjoys eating late lunches together in local restaurants and going on cruises. In February, they traveled to the easter Caribbean.
So what's the secret to their long and happy marriage? "Be accommodating," said Frank. "Anytime things came up, we worked it through," added Alice. "And the children brought us so much joy, we were going to stick together, no matter what."