70 years of marriage is cause for celebration

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Lt. Col. Wally Kaenzig, U.S. Marine Corps retired, and his wife Dorothy.

GALLOWAY – Today marks 70 years of marriage for Lt. Col. Wally Kaenzig, U.S. Marine Corps retired, and his wife Dorothy – married in 1942 as World War II was breaking out.

“And we’ve really been together 77 years,” Wally Kaenzig told The Current after a party in their honor at Gourmet Italian Cuisine Sunday, Sept. 23. “I was a sophomore and she was a freshman in high school. We went together all through high school and college. I was between military schools when we got married that fall.”

Nearly 30 family members and one friend joined the Kaenzigs Sunday and got to hear the family patriarch tell of days long gone by.

“We were married the 27th of September – a Sunday afternoon – at the Congregational Church in Egg Harbor City,” Kaenzig said. “Rev. Roberts was the pastor; one of the most honest people in Egg Harbor City.”

After the ceremony, Kaenzig said the couple went to Lorstan Studios in Atlantic City for photographs.

“That took forever – it must have been four hours,” he said. “The reception? Oh they had a great time. We arrived very late and could only stay about an hour. The reception was in the American Legion Hall in Egg Harbor City. Restaurants didn’t do that kind of thing in those days.”

Having to be at school in Quantico, Va., the next morning, Dorothy and Wally Kaenzig left the reception early and traveled through the night to get there.

“There was no bridge across the Delaware,” Kaenzig said. “There was a ferry boat. If you missed it, you had an hour wait.”

There was no I-95, he said.

“It was Route 40 to Baltimore, again with no bridge,” Kaenzig said. “To get through Baltimore there were 34 traffic lights – we counted them. There was no tunnel; you had to go through the city. No beltway around Washington; you had to go through the city. There was no 395 between Washington and Quantico – you took old Route 1.

What’s now a 4 to 4½-hour trip took over 6½ hours.”

They arrived at Mrs. Cato’s Rooming House at 3:30 a.m.

The newlyweds stayed with Mrs. Cato for 10 weeks until Wally was transferred to Camp Lejeune in North Carolina.

“We lived in 33 different places in the 26 years I was in the Marine Corps,” Kaenzig said. “Some, like the first, were just a room.”

By comparison, the Kaenzig Farm where they now live has been in the family more than 150 years.

“It was my grandfather’s in the 1800s,” he said. “He bought about 20 acres for $1 an acre. We lost it during the Depression. I bought 23 acres with a house and two sheds for $6,600 in 1946.”

Kaenzig retired from the Marine Corps in 1968 after being in active duty during World War II, the Korean and Vietnam wars.

“I retired as dean of students at Atlantic Community College in 1982,” Kaenzig said. “Now we raise flowers and Christmas trees.”

The Kaenzigs have three children, six grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren. Most were present Sunday, along with some in-laws, a cousin and friend.

Wally Kaenzig said his wife knew her way around Washington, D.C., in the day.

“She drove the kids cross-country, back from California,” he said. “Like most military wives she had to do things they didn’t know they had to do.”

Kaenzig said he was gone for 6½ of their 26-year military life together.

“She was a wonderful wife and mother,” Kaenzig said. “She graduated from secretarial school and worked for a couple of lawyers.”

Kaenzig said his mother was a Hansel man.

“I was born in Egg Harbor City and moved to Cologne when I was a year old,” he said. “Dorothy was born and raised in Egg Harbor City. She was really attractive. I remember seeing her walking to school from our passing school bus even before she went to high school.”

Kaenzig said he’s always been strong on family and family values.

“When the rubber hits the road, it’s your family you have to depend on,” he said. “Other things are great. But it’s your family that’ll see you through.”

Grandchildren put up sign for the Kaenzigs’ 70th anniversary party.

Grandchildren put up sign for the Kaenzigs’ 70th anniversary party.

Daughter Kim Hall talks to her parents’ in-laws and cousin.

Each table features a picture of the wedding couple in 1942. A picture from the party will go into the space on the right.

From left around the center table are Dorothy Kaenzig, daughter Kim Hall, Wally Kaenzig, son-in-law Jerry Hall and son-in-law Walter Vernon.

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