MEXICO – It was the year 1945 when Gloria Hutchinson and her girlfriend, Connie Libby were sauntering down Waldo Street in Rumford. They were the best of friends, engaging in conversation while returning from a 25 cent Strand Theater movie. As 18-year-olds, they were quite flattered when one of the two passing soldiers across the street sent a whistle in their direction. Within a few moments, friendly introductions were made by William Kerr and his buddy, Roosevelt Delano, both of Rumford. She became quite smitten with the handsome soldier known also as “Bill” Kerr. She learned he was on leave from Camp Edwards, Mass., while recovering from serious wounds encountered in Germany during his Army enlistment during World War II. He was awarded the Purple Heart for his bravery from President Harry S. Truman. The couple became friends immediately. Gloria was working in Wrentham, Mass., at the time and as they shared train rides from Boston to Rumford, they fell in love.
William Kerr, son of Rupert and Irene Kerr of Rumford and Gloria Hutchinson, daughter of Alton and Edith Rosetta Hutchinson of Mexico, were united in marriage on Feb. 22, 1946. Their wedding vows were exchanged at the home of the Rev. and Mrs. Hatch on Roxbury Road, Mexico, where Gloria also was a piano student of Mrs. Hatch. The Rev. Hatch officiated the ceremony, surrounded by family and friends, including Clyde Kerr, uncle of the bridegroom, who was the best man, and Mae Arsenault, friend of the bride, who was matron of honor. The couple vowed their commitments of love and devotion and planned to raise their future family in the Rumford and Mexico area.
Mr. Kerr was employed in the wood department in the Oxford Paper Company in Rumford. Although the name and owners of the company changed, he remained working at the same mill for 40 years. He was also known for his bountiful annual prized vegetable gardens. He is a member of the Rumford Veterans of Foreign War, American Legion and Fraternal Order of Eagles. She is well known for her warmth towards everyone and caring for her beloved family as a homemaker. She is also a marvelous cook and loves to try new recipes. She was a member of the Rumford Senior Club and the Mexico Congregational Church. As planned, they have resided in the Rumford and Mexico area together for 60 years. Together they have seven children, eight grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren.
On Feb. 18, a surprise 60th wedding anniversary celebration was held at their home at 129 Main St., Mexico. Upon their arrival they were welcomed with a gathering of family, friends and former neighbors. Three rooms of their home were decorated in silver and white decorations embellished with flower arrangements and gifts of family photographs.
An elegant three-tier heart shaped wedding cake, decorated in silver and white bells with pillars, was adorned with a heart shaped glass cake top engraved with their names and their 60th wedding anniversary. The beautiful wedding cake was surrounded with gifts of photographs of the honored couple spanning sixty years of their marriage, alongside a buffet luncheon prepared by the hosts.
As the celebration progressed, the couple presented one another with anniversary gifts, unknowing they were about to reveal identical gifts of exquisite wedding bands. Also unknowingly, they were then introduced to someone accompanied by their daughter, Susan Lavoie, who also had a unique surprise gift for them. The Rev. Linda A. Kimball of Mexico was introduced as she presented her gift, to officiate the renewal ceremony of their wedding vows for the couple. Mr. Kerr was given a boutonnière while his wife was given a bouquet of flowers and traditional gifts for a bride, including a tatted handkerchief handmade by her mother. The Rev. Kimball read a lovely poem with the beautiful sermon, blessing their rings and the couple with hopes for their continued future of love and happiness. Lawrence Kerr, brother of Mr. Kerr, was the best man, and Ruperta Nichols, sister of Mr. Kerr, was maid of honor.
A champagne toast completed the event, while their daughter, Sharon Rabon, read lovely prose she had written as toastmaster for her parents. A video documentary was filmed by their son-in-law, George Lavoie, during the event
Hosting the celebration were their children and spouses, Donna Kerr and companion, Robbie Lowell, Susan Lavoie and husband, George, and Sharon Rabon and husband, Chuck, all of Mexico, Barbara Newton and husband, Terry, and grandchildren, Faxon and Breanna McGaughlin, all of Burnham, and their niece, Victoria Oakes, of Rangeley. Also giving to the celebration yet unable to attend were their children, Wayne Kerr of Auburn, Bruce Kerr of Huntington Beach, Calif., and Gregory Kerr of St. Petersburg, Fla.
Their grandchildren include Camara Hiss of Davie, Fla., Michael Lavoie and Jeremy Pettegrow of Lakeland, Fla., Cary Kerr, Jessica Pettegrow and Melody Pettegrow, all of Mexico, and Faxon and Breanna McGaughlin of Burnham.
Gifts, cards, letters, flower arrangements and telephone calls arrived from Maine to California to join in the festivities. A surprise dinner honoring the couple was also given for them in Auburn. A very special highlight for the couple were congratulatory 60th wedding anniversary cards and letters of best wishes and blessings from Rep. Michael Michaud of Lewiston, Gov. John Baldacci of Augusta, and President George Bush and Laura Bush of Washington, D.C.