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Local couple’s marriage spans eras of war, peace and now a pandemic

Published: Aug. 6, 2020 at 3:50 PM CDT|Updated: Aug. 6, 2020 at 7:35 PM CDT
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WACO, Texas (KWTX) - Dr. Bob Garrett and his wife Marguerite, both 94, marked a major milestone Thursday as they celebrated their 72nd wedding anniversary at The Delaney at Lake Waco with two of their three children and a daughter-in-law as the facility eased restrictions on visitors for the first time since March.

"It's been nice having my family here," Bob said.

"It's so nice to sit and talk with each other face-to-face rather than through a glass door."

The Garretts moved to the Delaney about a year ago from their home of 50 years in Lufkin so they could be closer to their children, two of whom live in Waco.

They also have four grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

Until March their daughter, Peggilu Woodward, visited them almost daily, eating meals with them and taking her mother to the beauty shop.

Then the new coronavirus struck.

“All of the sudden I went to visit them and when I came out they said ‘this was your last visit. We’re not allowing you in after today.’”

Until Thursday the closest encounters the Garretts had with their children were on the phone, separated by a window.

State health officials announced Thursday that some indoor visits are now permissible at long-term care facilities, provided plexiglass barriers are in place, where there are no active COVID-19 cases involving residents and have been no active coronavirus cases involving employees in two weeks , but physical contact between visitors and residents isn’t allowed.

The decision to ease restrictions couldn’t have come at a better time.

"It's amazing," Peggilu said.

"A couple of years ago we threw a great big party when they reached their 70th and it's just every time we get another anniversary we feel so blessed. We are so grateful we got to go in and so grateful we got to be with them."

Robert I. Garrett and his wife Marguerite, both born in 1926, three years before the start of the Great Depression, married on August 6, 1948 in South Texas, three years after Japan’s surrender, as the world followed the XIV Olympic Games in London and a filibuster on Capitol Hill derailed efforts to eliminate poll taxes.

Garrett went on to serve for 28 years as a Navy surgeon, Marguerite by his side every step of the way.

The Navy sent him to Baylor Medical School, in Houston, and "when the Navy offered to pay for my training, I had to do it," Garrett said.

He married Marguerite during his senior year in medical school.

"I married her because she was the best-looking coed at Rice University," Garrett said.

"I didn't have any money and she'd just graduated and got a job."

Times were tough back then, but incredibly fun.

"My senior year in medical school, believe it or not, was the most fun I had in school," Garrett remembered.

He said his father, a Baptist preacher, told him he would pay for Garrett’s education, but added a caveat; if he got married before he graduated “then I agreed to take care of myself and my wife without his help,” Garrett said.

Garrett was recalled to active service with the outbreak of hostilities in Korea, and then for the next quarter-century the Navy sent the couple all over the world, not only to Korea, but also Vietnam, and more than a dozen assignments in the U.S., at such places as Camp Pendleton, Pensacola, Fla., and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

They were in Cuba in 1962, during the Cuban Missile Crisis.

Garrett retired in 1971 at the grade of captain and the couple left the deep blue water and moved to Lufkin, where his parents lived and he practiced there for more than 20 years.

Garrett was a preacher’s kid, born and reared in Park Place, which now is a part of Houston, by his father, a Baptist minister who moved from Waco to take the position there.

"Until I graduated from high school, if the church doors were open, I was inside," he said.

Garrett has a pacemaker and some underlying health issues that put him at great risk for contracting the coronavirus if he’s exposed.

“It’s been pretty tough with these viruses around,” he said.

But Garrett as a military doctor and says he's quite familiar with "quarantines and things like that."

Although it's been nearly 50 years since he's served, Garrett has no regrets about his military service.

"I think I made the right decision," he said. "And I'm glad I did."

And when asked if he’d marry Marguerite all over again, he chuckled and said, “I would if she’d let me.”WACO, Texas (KWTX) -

Copyright 2020 KWTX. All rights reserved.

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