Lucky to be together

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LEWISTON – Ron Bonenfant is quick to show off the picture on his cell phone. It’s his wife, Maggie, when they got engaged in 1957.

“She’s hot,” he said with a chuckle.

At their kitchen table, Maggie, 71, and Ron, 72, laughed frequently as they talked about dating, getting married in 1958 and raising six children.

Both went to St. Dom’s high school but didn’t date until several years after graduation. In October 1955 he came home from the Army when his father died.

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“Guess who showed up at the funeral parlor?” he said. “That was it.”

Maggie had lost her own father several months before. Knowing what he was going through, she offered condolences to Ron.

The next year, when he got out of the Army, he asked her out. Their first date was a movie.

“What attracted me to Maggie was the same thing that attracts any man to a woman at first: sheer beauty,” he said.

He remembered that she smelled “so good” and recalled the perfume she wore: Cote’s Emerald.

He soon found that her beauty went deep. “She was a sweetheart; she still is,” he said. “It’s almost a saying, ‘Everybody loves Maggie.'”

As for Maggie, she said she enjoyed being with Ron. “I just liked him. He was thoughtful. He was good company. He always had plans.”

An insurance salesman, his marriage pitch to her was “the biggest sales job I ever did,” he said. “It was worth it.”

In October 1957 he gave her a diamond.

The following May they got married at Saints Peter and Paul Church, now a basilica, in Lewiston.

They were married for 10 months when their first child arrived. More were to follow soon.

They had six children in eight years.

Raising them wasn’t difficult, Maggie insisted.

“The oldest one was always entertaining the youngest,” she said. “Ronnie was here to help me, and I started baby-sitting at age 10. That was good training.”

The Bonenfants ran their home as a team. They agreed on how to raise the children, what kind of discipline to impose. As an insurance agent, he was able to set his own hours and tried to be home at dinnertime so Maggie didn’t get overwhelmed.

They took two vacations per year, one with the children, one without.

They watched their children play sports, went camping and canoeing, celebrated Christmas at big gatherings. These days they enjoy watching their grandchildren play sports.

Last year Maggie suffered a stroke but made a full recovery. That gave him a scare, Ron said.

He and Maggie consider themselves lucky and blessed.

“He spoils me,” Maggie said. “He’s helped me a lot with the housework. If he saw I was stressed out, we’d go away. He’d ask his mother to sit. If his mother didn’t sit, we’d hire two student nurses.”

A few days away from the children was all she needed to get rejuvenated, Maggie said.

He’s still smitten.

“She completes me,” he said. “I’m the luckiest guy in the world. I make sure that I thank God every night.”

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