‘Tolerance and patience’ kept them together
Nigerian musician D’banj once said; “Don’t get it twisted, love is a beautiful game.” True to that, love sure is a beautiful game; and marriage is the ultimate result of emotional love.
This is more evident in the lives of Mr. and Mrs. John T. Woods, who have spent half a century together. So, 50 years ago Mr. Woods found himself a wife and popped the big question. Obviously, the response from Catherine was a favorable one.
We may not know what exactly happened on their first and second anniversaries but this 50th one has really rung a bell at the celebration on St. Peter’s Lutheran Compound on 13th Street in Sinkor, Monrovia.
The Woods’ began from humble beginnings. No fancy wedding, just a small ceremony in the home of Catherine’s uncle, J. Wah-Doe Bedell on Newport Street on September 18, 1967.
While John on the first occasion vowed before man and God to love his wife till eternity, beautiful Catherine, in return, promised him her heart. And fifty years later, both are still passionately in love with each other, and their marital life has been laced with more roses than thorns, thereby making them a model couple to their fans at home and abroad.
The program was attended by family members, friends, and well-wishers. It was marked by a selection of songs and remarks from all. Several distinguished personalities attended the ceremony. They included former Liberia Ambassador to the United States, Charles Minor; former Agriculture Minister, Dr. Moses Zinnah; and former Managing Director for the Liberia Petroleum Corporation (LPRC), T. Nelson Williams.
The Woods are close relatives of the Traubs and the Bests. Among those who witnessed the occasion was Mr. Sam Mitchel, a businessman and chief executive officer of Corina Hotel. Many who attended the program applauded the couple for the love and sincere commitment to their marital vows.
The speakers expressed the hope that the good Lord would grant the Woods long life to enjoy many more anniversaries.
Mr. Woods is a professor in the School of Agriculture & Forestry at the University of Liberia, and is the former Managing Director of the Forestry Development Authority (FDA). The marriage has been blessed with several children – many of whom are living in the United States, and grandchildren.
Speaking at the program, Ambassador Minor commended the couple for being truthful to each other. “You have done very well by working together to make your marriage a happy one, so we say congratulations!” he said.
Mr. Kenneth Y. Best, a long time friend of the Woods, described the couple as a role model for married people. “I am highly gratified that we can join you in celebrating your 50th wedding anniversary. Your living together for this period of time is a great example for others to emulate,” he told the couple. Mr. Best wished Almighty God’s continuous blessings on the couple, their children and their descendants.
In response, Mr. Woods disclosed that their union have been blessed with four children and many adopted brothers, sisters and nephews, due to tolerance and patience, “because it was a hard decision to make, but with commitment we entered that union.”
Mr. Woods, who met his wife Catherine, a secretary at the Ministry of Planning, said, “In many ways, I think this is how all married couples should start out. We were stripped of most things and we, as a couple, had to fight our way out of it. We had to make goals, we had to learn how to be frugal, we had to plan, budget, save, and sacrifice.
“When you do work your way to something better, you really appreciate it, because they are so different from where we are now. We can see the growth in our relationship. We can see the progress we have made, and I think that it has made us closer and stronger,” he said.
Explaining their humble beginnings, Mr. Woods further told the congregation that they learned always to exercise restraint “whenever Catherine, my wife, was vexed. This is what has kept our relationship going,” he explained.
“I love our humble beginnings. It’s our story. It’s a good story. I love our now and all the in-between, because, no matter poor or well-off, this family together is all the matters,” he said.
Narrowing it down to the Liberian society today, he said, “once families are together, there will always be peace in the country, and development.”
For her part, Mrs. Catherine Woods expressed gratitude to John for treating her like a lady, “providing for our family and putting us first at all times.’’
“Happy anniversary to my dearest husband because ours has been a long journey filled with lessons and unique experiences that have shaped who we have become today.
“I am happy to say that we are now best friends besides everything else. I have learned to listen and respect you more, and you have learned to appreciate me as I am,’’ she said.
The occasion ended in grand style, this time around, with lots of food and drinks for everyone, unlike 50 years ago.