Love is on the breeze for Bainbridge Island, but it’s the wind in the sails for this longtime couple.
Meet Peggy and Ronald Booth: longtime Washington and BI residents, married for 63 years. Together, the pair have raised three kids, traveled the world, enjoyed volumes of art, and battled bone cancer and disability.
As Valentine’s Day nears, Peggy Booth talked about her marriage and the best parts of being in love for such a long time.
Tell me about how you two met. Was it love at first sight?
Ron was born in Long Beach, CA, but his family was Navy so they moved around a lot. I was born in Oxnard, CA [two hours away], but we moved to Houston, Texas six weeks later. My mother and I came back to Long Beach when I was in high school.
One summer vacation, my family took a trip to a reunion, and when we came back, a friend of mine introduced Ron and me. Ron was a year ahead of me in school — he was Class of 1956. A few months later, we started dating, and we have been together ever since. He went into the Naval Academy, and I went to Whittier College for nursing.
If you had to pick, what’s been the favorite decade of your relationship?
Probably after we were first married, when Ron had been chosen by the Naval Academy for a direct input to nuclear power school, to train to work on a submarine. He did six months of school in California, six months at a reactor center in Idaho Falls, Idaho, and he was supposed to do six months in submarine school, but his captain said, “Oh no, my guys can do it in three months,” and we ended up in Hawaii for his first sub.
We had our children right away — three children in 3 1/2 years — and we loved the camaraderie of the Navy. Later, when we lived in Japan, we also traveled all over the country.
What do you like to do together, then and now?
We love the arts and high culture. We like to read together, and we love music. We like going out. We spent many years as patrons of the Pacific Northwest Ballet — I was president of the Ballet League. We miss going to see it in person, but we are able to watch it at home these days on a live video.
When we lived in Japan, I took up Japanese flower arranging and got very involved with that. Ron has helped me a lot with schlepping all this material back and forth, and finding places to put designs up. We do a lot of things together.
What’s the favorite part of growing old with your lover?
Since we’ve known each other for so long, and through so many different stages in our marriage and of our life, we know each other really well. It’s a two-sided sword. It can be really good, but it can also be what hurts the other person — it depends on how you choose to use it.
You bite your tongue and use it the right way. My husband is a quieter person, and he’s ambidextrous — which means the thought goes back and forth between the sides of your brain before you speak or act. I speak before I think. So we’re opposites, in that respect.
Any advice for newlyweds?
It’s hard work, and you have to make an effort. And you have to be able to say “I’m sorry” — and forgive.