June 13, 2013

Couple's nationwide tour of capitols ends in Augusta on 65th anniversary

By Tom Bell tbell@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

AUGUSTA — How would you celebrate your 65th wedding anniversary? A Texas couple traveled to Augusta to watch the Maine Legislature at work.

click image to enlarge

Marcine Webb, 86, and his wife, Nita Lou Webb, from San Angelo, Texas, visit the Maine State House on Friday to celebrate their 65th wedding anniversary. Maine is the 50th state capital they have visited during their marriage. Their trip to Maine was an anniversary gift from their two daughters.

Portland Press Herald photo by Tom Bell

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Really.

Nita Lou Webb, 81, and Marcine Webb, 86, arrived Friday just in time to watch lawmakers in the House debate L.D. 837, an Act to Clarify the Laws Establishing the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry.

Not that they're much interested in agriculture policy. The point of their journey was to be here, in the back row of the House gallery, fulfilling a lifelong quest to visit every state capitol.

Maine's was 50th on their list.

When House Speaker Mark Eves announced the reason for their visit, the state representatives jumped to their feet and cheered.

The Webbs, who live in the West Texas city of San Angelo, were accompanied by their two daughters.

After L.D. 837 was passed to be engrossed by a committee amendment and sent to the Senate for concurrence, the visitors headed to lunch at the cafeteria in the adjacent Cross Office Building.

So, they were asked, how does Maine's State House — designed by the renowned Boston architect Charles Bulfinch — stack up with the capitols in the 49 other states?

"It's medium," said the straight-talking Marcine Webb, a retired plant manager for the El Paso Natural Gas Co.

In terms of architecture, their favorite is New Mexico's capitol, in Santa Fe, the only round state capitol. When viewed from above, the building resembles the Zia sun symbol.

Their least favorite? Louisiana's.

The 34-story Art Deco building in Baton Rouge is the tallest capitol in the United States. And it still has the bullet holes in the walls where Gov. Huey Long was assassinated in 1935. But Marcine Webb said the building's materials are cheap, with wood painted to look like marble.

The 49th capitol the Webbs visited was Alaska's, in Juneau. That was five years ago. Because of Marcine Webb's poor health in recent years, they haven't traveled at all.

So, for all that time, Maine's capitol was the last remaining stop on their "bucket list."

Marcine's health has improved lately, so the couple's daughters, Becky Perrine and Penny Chilton, decided to take them to Maine as a gift for their 65th wedding anniversary, which they will celebrate in August.

After finally making it to Maine's capitol, the couple gave it high marks for its warm and friendly atmosphere.

"People welcome you with open hearts," said Nita Lou Webb. "You have honest and caring people here."

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