First time Edward Carter Stephenson saw the woman who would become his wife, he had one word to say.
Stephenson, a North Carolinian stationed at Griffiss Air Force Base, first saw Joan McLaughlin of Waterville at a dance. For him, there was no doubt about it.
“I said to my fellow airman I was with, that woman is going to be my wife. A year or so later, I was right,’’ Ed said.
For Joan, it was a bit more complicated. “His Southern drawl was hard to understand, so I wasn’t quite sure what he was saying. I thought he asked me to dance so I said yes.’’
He had, and the couple who will be married 65 years in September have been in step ever since. For their wonderful example of how to treat a spouse with love, respect and kindness, the Stephensons have been chosen the 2021 Waterville Times Valentines Couple.
“It all started with a dance,’’ said Ed of a marriage that now includes six children, 10 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. “I was a North Carolina boy sent here by the Air Force and I thank God for that. Changed my life.’’
Joan loved dancing, and found this tall Air Force man a good partner. She just wasn’t sure of his name.
“He told me his name and I said, ‘Excuse me?’ I said, yes, certainly, I would love to, figuring he was asking me to dance,’’ she said.
“And that’s how our journey began,’’ Ed said.
“It was meant to be,’’ Joan added.
After their marriage, Ed juggled a job at General Electric while attending Utica College at night. Joan’s job was to run the growing household.
Joan, having grown up in Waterville where her family ran one of its department stores for decades, knew the value of raising a family in a small town. “All my family and friends were here,’’ she said.
Ed agreed. “It was a quaint village and friendly,’’ he said. “Waterville has been very good to the Stephenson family.’’
All six of their children, in order of age - Edward III, Christy, Tim, Suzette, Eric and Christopher - graduated from Waterville Central School. A few years into their married lives, the Stephensons moved to East Bacon Street, where they still live.
Two years separate Edward and Christy, and Christy and Tim. Suzette was born 14 months after Tim. Five years separate her and Eric, and then in another three years came No. 6.
Used to the Boy-Girl pattern set by the first five, Joan at first was surprised she had…