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Published: Saturday, 2/26/2011 - Updated: 3 years ago

Pair celebrate life's blizzards on 50th wedding anniversary

BY CLAUDIA BOYD-BARRETT
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Donna and David Wagner have weathered the years together. They said Friday's snow brought back warm memories, but better conditions would have been nice. Donna and David Wagner have weathered the years together. They said Friday's snow brought back warm memories, but better conditions would have been nice.
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It was 50 years ago Friday that David and Donna Wagner of Toledo faced down sheets of ice and blustery snow to make it to church on their wedding day.

Half a century later, the couple awoke to wind, ice, and snow all over again as they marked their anniversary at their home in Toledo's Point Place neighborhood.

"This is probably the most similar [weather] to what we had that day," Mrs. Wagner, 68, said as she sat with her husband on their living-room couch. A bouquet of red roses from Mr. Wagner, 72, to his wife bloomed on the table behind them.

"The ice being on the trees and everything, it brings back the memory of what it was like," Mrs. Wagner said. "We feel blessed."

Weather was the furthest thing from Mr. and Mrs. Wagner's minds when they married at Redeemer Lutheran Church on Upton and Oakwood Avenues back in 1961. Despite the ice storm descending upon Toledo that day, the couple wanted only to say their vows in the company of their many friends and family members. They were young and in love and nothing — not even freezing rain and snow — was going to get in the way of them being together.

"I never worried about the weather," Mr. Wagner said.

"When you're in love, weather isn't an issue," Mrs. Wagner added.

It wasn't all smooth sailing that day, Mr. Wagner's niece Sharon Fuzessy recalled. The service was delayed about 15 minutes because Ms. Fuzessy battled icy roads as she picked up Mr. Wagner's mother.

Then the bridesmaids, all wearing big puffy dresses, were almost blown away by the wind, the couple said.

Their honeymoon to Niagara Falls was also an icy affair. It took them two days to drive the slippery roads up to Canada and, when they arrived, the falls were frozen solid.

"It was definitely an icy week," Mrs. Wagner said.

Donna and David Wagner didn't mind the snow and ice on their wedding day in 1961. Donna and David Wagner didn't mind the snow and ice on their wedding day in 1961.
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With the arrival of 7.8 inches of snow in the Toledo area Friday, the Wagners reflected on how much their lives have changed since they began their 50-year adventure together under similar skies.

They went from humble beginnings, living in an apartment they rented from a relative for $40 a month, to building their dream home on the water in Point Place.

In 1981, they opened their own business, The Mold Shop, which makes molds for the plastics industry and where the couple still work today. They raised two children, now both grown and successful, and have traveled together.

Yet among the highlights and achievements, the Wagners have faced challenges too.

Their first son died in a car accident at the age of 3, leaving the couple distraught.

During their many years in business, the Wagners also weathered tremendous ups and downs.

More recently, Mr. Wagner has suffered some serious health problems, including a heart attack and a staph infection.

"We had a lot of times that were hard times," Mrs. Wagner said. "I think when you get through these struggles, it either makes or breaks you."

The Wagners credit their faith in God and their dedication to each other as the keys to their strong marriage.

Since they were first married — and still to this day — they make time to go out together on a Saturday night. They also share many of the same interests, especially boating, the couple said.

"I can't believe we've reached our 50th anniversary," Mr. Wagner said, beaming. "I'm looking forward to my 75th."

The Wagners plan to celebrate their anniversary Saturday evening with more than 200 friends and family at the Bay View Yacht Club.

Although happy with the snowy weather yesterday for memory's sake, they said they had hoped for better conditions Saturday.

Ms. Fuzessy was one of those planning to attend the party. She flew in from Florida on Wednesday to attend the anniversary celebration and said, despite the bad weather, she wasn't deterred.

"I just couldn't miss this. There's no way," Ms. Fuzessy said. "I think the world of these two. We need more people like Dave and Donna."

Contact Claudia Boyd-Barrett at: cbarrett@theblade.com or 419-724-6272.



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