It was a wave in a crowded hospital cafeteria that brought Barbara Doreen and Peter Walford-Davis together.
The couple – who celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary Aug. 3, 2018 – were both working at the Trenton Memorial Hospital about 52 years ago, Doreen said. Doreen was working in the physiotherapy department while Walford-Davis, a reverend, was visiting sick parishioners.
The cafeteria was completely packed one Monday afternoon, she said, which was unusual.
“All of a sudden, this handsome-looking gentleman appeared at the door,” Doreen said. “Tray full of food, nowhere to sit. There was a spare place at my table. One empty chair in the whole cafeteria. That’s where it took off.”
Walford-Davis said he was waved down by Doreen, who now goes by Walford-Davis.
“I just wanted to know her better,” he said. “As things happen, slowly, but surely, we sensed we wanted to share each other’s lives.”
The two courted and he would go on to propose in spring 1968.
“Very simply, I asked her if she’d marry. No flashing lights, no trumpets or anything. Just a quiet, simple wondering if she’d say yes or no,” Walford-Davis said. “Here we are, almost 51 years later.”
The husband and wife moved around the province several times over the next five decades as Walford-Davis took on different pastoral-charges. The pair retired in the County of Haliburton in 1993, although that did not prove to be the end of Walford-Davis’s career, as he continued his ministerial work. Doreen, meanwhile, spent 20 years as the president of the Minden Food Bank.
“Barbara has always supported me, has always gone to the churches I was serving,” Walford-Davis said. “That helps because she understood the difficulties, the churches, the joys and the sorrows of pastoral ministry.”
Doreen said she understood his position, having grown up as the daughter of a police chief in Trenton.
“If your husband is in a public business, it’s very important that the wife support,” she said.
The two also raised three boys together, and now have seven grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.
When they reached the 50-year anniversary milestone, Doreen said it felt likes the years had gone by fast.
“It didn’t seem like 50 years, let’s put it that way,” she said.
Walford-Davis said a lasting marriage is two imperfect people working together.
“Accepting the challenges that come and sharing in the joys and the sorrows of growing,” he said. “In the process of these years together, getting to know one another that much better. You [have] to work it like anything else.”
“It’s a matter of working together and respect for each other,” Doreen added. “Sure, we have our disagreements. It’s not perfect. You have your ups and downs, wouldn’t be life if it wasn’t.”
As for how they feel about their relationship going forward?
“One day at a time,” Walford-Davis said. “Live that day to its fullest, best you can.”
In an article Walford-Davis penned, he remarked on the power of a simple wave as he reflected on how he met his wife of 50 years.
“I caution you when you have the impulse to wave, it could change your life,” he said in the article. “I know, for it did mine!”