70th wedding anniversary for Carol and Marvin Pope

June 21, 2024
Two older people pose on a plaid armchair. He is sitting, she is resting her arms on the top of the chair.
Carol and Marvin Pope pose in their Acton home. Photo: Laura Wolfe

What does it take to stay married to the same person for seventy years? That’s what the Acton Exchange asked Carol (née Conte) and Marvin Pope, both 91, 70 years married on June 19.

“I think the Old Girl and I got along so well because we both loved fishing,” said Marvin. “Marriage is a crapshoot, and I won!”

“Pure luck”, says Carol, but added that she and Marv always did things together: fishing, campling, choir singing, square dancing, duplicate bridge, and were “best friends.” Marvin liked to garden and play the piano; Carol liked to hang wallpaper and lay tile. Marvin was an engineer; Carol was an artist and played the accordion.

Carol radiates energy, good will and a love of life. At 91 she is tiny, perky and chatty. Marvin, a big man with a mane of white hair, pretends to be gruff, but Carol says, “He’s really a pussycat.”

The couple met in college, both on scholarships and each the first in their family to attend college. Marvin said, “Carol was one of the most popular coeds at Carroll College in my home town Waukesha, WI, and had boys around her like flies on honey. But when I learned that she liked fishing, I knew I had her because I knew the Waukesha lakes and streams like the back of my hand.” They were married in 1954 after Marv finished school at Illinois Tech while Carol worked as a secretary. They moved to California where their four children were born.

Transferring from his job at AeroJet in California in 1966, Marv started a two-year stint at MIT’s Lincoln Lab. In 1968 he decided to stay (actually until retirement) and Carol started house hunting. Concord had nothing for a four-kid family under $35,000, but she found a not-on-the-market-yet house on Piper Road in Acton, bought it on the spot, and that has been their home ever since. “We’d heard nothing but good things about Acton’s schools and my commute to Lincoln Lab would be only ten miles,” Marv explains.

“I worked for many years at MIT’s Lincoln Laboratory on some of the weirdest things imaginable, as a staff member and group leader, says Marv. Now I just loaf and visit with my great grandchildren, whom I adore.” Eight of them – ages baby to teens.

Carol is a gifted artist; her portfolio of oils and pastels spans fifty years. In high school, she attended the School of the Art Institute of Chicago for free portrait lessons on Saturdays and then continued taking lessons for the next forty years, honing her craft and her talents.

Portrait painting is what she likes best. She has painted many of Marv, her favorite (and captive) model, one of which accompanies this article. Carol has exhibited locally and won juried prizes. Today there is a houseful of unframed canvases that the family will have to divvy up one day.

An oil painting of a seated man wearing a baseball cap and a white button-down shirt. He is reading a book and has a teeny tiny yellow bow clipped to his open-necked shirt.
Portrait of Marvin Pope painted by his wife, Carol Pope. Photo: Laura Wolfe

The Popes at different times were part of the South Acton Congregational Church and St. Matthews Methodist Church, where Carol and Marvin were in the choirs. As a COA Board member, Marvin delivered for Meals on Wheels and developed and coordinated the COA Handyman program in 2000.

Each of the Pope’s four children chose a different career path: MaryBeth is a doctor; Susie, a lawyer (deceased); Geno, after R.I. School of Design, designed and constructed movie sets; and Kenny, a French Horn player in many orchestras who now sells and services the “largest selection of French horns in the world.”

“Marv and I are polite to one another; respect is a big part of our marriage. We go to bed by 7 p.m. now, but we’re up at 6:30 and start every morning in our big hot tub – and we have fun together,” Carol sums up.

Another picture of the same couple. They are standing outside, in front of some trees, and the woman looks like she's about to break into giggles.
Carol and Marv outside. After 70 years of marriage, Carol and Marv seem to still enjoy each others company. Photo: Laura Wolfe

“What kept Carol and me together all these years, and I think the most important thing, is that we did so many things together, like fishing, camping, playing bridge and pinochle, and cooking. Also, neither of us enjoys holding a grudge; it’s too stressful. And Carol always had nice hooters,” added the irrepressible Marvin.

Marion Maxwell publishes a weekly senior email newsletter in Acton and is on the board of the Acton Exchange.


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