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Lasting love in Leaside

Pat and Tony Keith. Photo by Susan Scandiffio.

Pat and Tony Keith. Photos by Susan Scandiffio.

Retailers love Valentine’s Day. With consumers spending over 18 billion dollars in the U.S. last year, the holiday is a hit for sellers and often a pressure-filled event for buyers hoping to find that “perfect” present. But for couples who have been together a very long time, life isn’t all about flowers, jewellery, and chocolate (though they never hurt).

Leasiders Pat and Tony Keith and Carol and Gord Epp are excellent examples of two couples who have successfully navigated their way through married life and are still deeply in love.

Pat and Tony Keith

In the 1950s, Pat and Tony’s families felt, as many others did, that school and church events were “safe spaces” to meet potential suitors. So when a pastor from Tony’s church started a youth group, and Pat became a member, it was a much approved spot for young love to take root. Their first “official” date took place when Tony invited Pat to a year-end party in his last year at UTS. Together thereafter, the Keiths married at the First Avenue Baptist Church at Gerrard and Broadview in 1960, just as Tony was finishing law school. 

The couple settled first in East York and in 1969 purchased a house on Leaside’s Astor Ave. for $35,000(!). In 1973, they moved to their current home on Hanna Rd. With three busy children involved in multiple activities, the Keiths were thrilled to be a part of a vibrant community with lots of young families.

As Tony explains, “you start out in a marriage all excited and everything is new, and when children come along, you get caught up in their welfare. But it’s important to keep the lives of both your marriage and your kids going.”  Three kids, four grandkids, and 58 years of marriage later, the Keiths have definitely kept it all going. Pat describes Tony as patient, thoughtful, and someone to whom the kids turn for advice. Tony, meanwhile, describes Pat as extremely principled, a value which has ensured the successful functioning of their family.

As to what keeps them together? Both agree that while it’s important to have one’s own pursuits, common interests such as curling, bridge, and church activities, all within Leaside, as well as time together at their Kawartha cottage, have been key to keeping the magic alive.

Carol and Gord Epp

Carol and Gord Epp. Photo By Susan Scandiffio.

Carol and Gord Epp. Photo By Susan Scandiffio.

If one were to search for a common theme in the lives of both Carol and Gord Epp, it would be Leaside and more specifically, Airdrie Rd. Both grew up on the street, both attended Rolph Road School and Leaside High School, and while they lived elsewhere in Toronto when they first married in 1962, they returned to Leaside and purchased a home on, where else, Airdrie Rd.

The couple raised two athletic daughters. Now they also have five grandchildren of whom they are immensely proud. While they have witnessed many changes in Leaside over the years, it’s the spirit of the neighbourhood they love and both are so thankful for the friends they have made over the years right at their doorstep.

When asked what he admires most about Carol, Gord came up with the astute and fail-safe response, “the list is too long.” On deeper reflection, though, he describes Carol as helpful, compassionate, cheerful, perceptive, and sensitive. Carol, meanwhile, characterizes Gord as sincere, patient, devoted, talented, and industrious.

And their tips for maintaining a marriage? After almost 56 years of marriage, the couple firmly believes in the importance of remembering good times, accepting bad times so they can pass and be forgotten, accepting each other’s faults and frailties, encouraging one another to grow, and spending time together.

So if you do decide to shop for Valentine’s Day gifts this year, remember two things: a) shop local (you’re welcome BIA), and b) unfailing love comes not from a box of chocolate, but from hard work, patience, and perseverance. And with 110 years of marriage between them, the Keiths and the Epps are shining examples of lasting love in Leaside.

Know of other Leaside couples whose love has endured? Write to us at leasidepublishing@gmail.com.