Howard and Lillian Savoie will celebrate a milestone this summer that very few marriages arrive at – on July 2 they will celebrate their 75th wedding anniversary.
The Savoies are life-long residents of Bayou Gauche. Lillian’s maiden name is Dufrene, and she grew up on Black Prince Island in Bayou Gauche. She is one of 11 children, and Howard went to live with Lillian’s grandparents after his mother died when he was around 10 years old.
The rest, as they say, is history.
“I just knew,” Howard, 97, said of how he knew he wanted to marry Lillian, who is now 92. “I watched her grow up all those years, so when I came back from the service I asked and she said ‘yes.’”
Howard served in the Army’s 4th Infantry, 70th Tank Battalion. He landed on Utah Beach on D-Day and was a gunner in a Sherman Tank. He honorably discharged and awarded a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star.
After the service, Howard worked at Simoneaux Ponds and the Grain Elevator before becoming a fisher and crabber. Howard and Lillian made stuffed crabs to sell to individuals and Sal’s Restaurant to support their family.
Lillian said the best part about raising their family in St. Charles Parish was teaching their children how to live off the land and be self-sufficient.
“You couldn’t just go buy what you needed, so you grew it,” she said. “I knew my kids were safe … it’s different out here than in a big city.”
Howard always had a huge garden in their backyard, and Lillian said they would keep what they needed, sell what they didn’t need or trade for what they didn’t have.
The Savoies have two children, four grandchildren, three great-grandchildren and one great-great-grandchild. They said their determination has been their relationship’s strength, and that their advice to younger couples would be to not give up.
“Life is difficult, and it definitely won’t go as planned,” Lillian said. “It takes more than just love.”
Howard echoed his wife’s sentiments.
“Don’t give up when it gets difficult,” he said.
Mandy Savoie, the couple’s youngest granddaughter, said you hardly ever see relationships like the one her grandparents have.
“Divorce was never an option for them,” she said. “They took those vows seriously. They went through some extremely difficult times – times that would break any marriage. Instead, they leaned on their unwavering faith in God and each other and they helped each other through it … they are leaving a legacy of love to inspire the rest of us.”
Chris Savoie, the couple’s grandson, said his grandparent’s marriage is a model for what everyone should use to ensure a life-long relationship.
“They are two of the most caring, loving and giving people I have ever known,” he said. “They are always wanting to give to community members, friends and even strangers. My grandparents 75th wedding anniversary is a milestone that not many will see in their lifetime, but it is a testament to their hard work, devotion and faith.”
Howard said all the hard work he and Lillian have put into their marriage has been worth it.
“She’s my wife,” Howard said. “After everything we went through, she stayed. It was a tough life, but we did it together.”