WESTBROOK — It’s not the most romantic story, the way they tell it.

World War II had depleted her dating pool and she was getting kind of old to be single.

For him, it was the way she looked from the backside.

So, three years after they met through a mutual friend, Ann and John Zerillo got married on a rainy day in October 1948.

Or maybe it was March.

“No, that was your birthday,” John Zerillo said. “When was our anniversary? I forget.” In October, his wife insisted.


“What the day is, I don’t remember,” she said.

No matter. The marriage took, and the couple, both 88, will renew their wedding vows on Friday – a date that should be easier to recall.

The Valentine’s Day ceremony was an idea presented by the staff of Avita of Stroudwater, an assisted-living facility in Westbrook, to the six married couples who live there. Two of them decided to say “I do” again.

Along with the Zerillos, Barbara and Leon Fogg will pledge their love to each other for the second time, then kick off a sweetheart dance for all the residents by swaying to “It Had to Be You” – the wedding song of both couples.

At first, the Zerillos were the only ones who agreed to do it. Leon Fogg didn’t see the need, and he told his wife why.

“Because it was so good the first time,” Barbara Fogg said.


Later, he realized there was one good reason.

“She wanted it, and I love her. I went along with it,” he said.

No wonder their marriage is going on 59 years.

The Foggs’ story starts at the third-floor lunch counter at New England Telephone and Telegraph Co. in Portland, where they both worked.

“I thought he looked pretty snazzy,” said Barbara Fogg, now 81.

They started hanging out at group gatherings.


“He was a good kisser, so I immediately thought, ‘I don’t mind this guy,’ ” she said.

He didn’t mind her, either.

“It was fun getting to know each other,” said Leon Fogg, 82.

Soon, they got married, she said, because that’s what you did.

“I took it real serious,” he said. “Still do.”

The Foggs raised four children in Portland and now have two great-grandchildren.


The Zerillos, on the other hand, raised three kids in New Jersey. They moved to Windham a few years ago to be closer to their daughter’s family, then moved to Westbrook in the fall.

Neither couple claims the past half-dozen decades have been easy.

“We went through a lot of stormy weather,” John Zerillo said. “She gave me back my ring about three or four times.”

Both wives said they were home alone a lot, raising kids while their husbands were working, often out of town.

John Zerillo also had a hobby that drew him away.

“I’m a gambler, unfortunately,” he said.


One time, he went out to play poker with the boys and came back three days later. He’s still not sure why his wife got so upset.

“I wasn’t fooling around, just playing cards,” he said.

For him, commitment is the key to a successful marriage.

“If you want to hop, skip and jump, you’re never going to be happy,” he said.

Even with all their practice, their marriage still isn’t perfect.

“We’re always arguing about something,” said Ann Zerillo, who has perfected her eye-roll.


Barbara Fogg can’t help but mutter under her breath when her husband repeats himself.

Still, there’s never been an option other than staying together forever.

“We were married,” she said. “That’s it. Nothing else.”

Leslie Bridgers can be contacted at 791-6364 or at:


Twitter: @lesliebridgers

Comments are no longer available on this story