Article by Maria Papadopoulos, photos by Dave DeMelia
Originally published in The Enterprise on June 25, 2015. Reprinted with permission.
They first pledged their love for one another before God when they married 68 years ago in 1947.
On Wednesday afternoon, outside on a hot summer day, 98-year-old Albertina “Tina” Kempf and her husband, Carl, 89, renewed their wedding vows before a crowd of well-wishers at the Life Care Center of West Bridgewater [, Massachusetts].
Standing next to his bride as she sat in a wheelchair, Carl Kempf joined his right hand with hers. The octogenarian pledged to be true to her in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health, and to love and honor her all the days of her life.
“Yes, and how!” he said, wearing a navy suit and tie and a white corsage on his jacket lapel. “Always, ever and ever.”
The Rev. Larry Jerge of Holy Cross Church in Easton then asked Tina to make the same pledge.
Carl nudged his bride during a brief pause.
“Say yes, Tina! Say yes,” he said.
“Yes!” said Tina, dressed in a white jacket and slacks and holding a white bouquet in her lap, as the audience applauded.
After the ceremony, Carl Kempf said he’s long wanted to renew marriage vows with his wife, whose health is failing.
“We’ve been together now for 68 years. Tina’s got medical problems now and she’s only got a short time to live,” he said. “So I’ve always wanted to do my wedding again before we died.”
The couple’s only son, James Kempf of Easton, was among dozens of people who attended the outdoor ceremony.
“When my father decides he wants to do something, he makes sure he does it,” said Kempf, 64, adding that his mother is battling liver cancer.
The couple lived together in Easton for several years before Tina began living at the Life Care Center of West Bridgewater recently. They met through friends more than seven decades ago, their son said. His mother grew up in Bridgewater and his father in Easton.
The couple ran Tina’s Beauty Shop on Belmont Street in South Easton for several years before closing the shop, he said.
His mother worked until age 82, he said.
Jerge, who officiated the ceremony, said he’s “never done this before.”
“I mean, 98 and 89?” said Jerge, who has known the couple for seven years. “When I first met them, I was absolutely blown away by the devotion, especially him for her.”
As they moved indoors to cut a large, white cake with pink frosting, bearing the words “Congratulations Tina and Carl,” Carl Kempf shared his secret to their long marriage.
“Just stay together and do what you’ve got to do and do it right,” he said, sitting next to his bride. “We love each other, and always did and always will.”