Howard and Lil Goldsmid don't profess to know the secret to a long and successful marriage but they do know Whistler has played a role in keeping them together these 65 years.
The mountains, the skiing, the youthfulness, the certain joy in making the most of the outdoors, knitted the Goldsmids together early in their marriage, creating unbreakable bonds.
"The mountains have really done it for us," said Howard, warm cup of tea to his right, Lil to his left on a stool by the fire on a rainy June day.
Howard is 92 years old and still bikes and skis. Lil, also known as Nana G, is 89 and reads to local Grade 1 children. On Tuesday, July 10 they will mark their 65th wedding anniversary. And as homage to the community they love so much, they are having a party for their big day, with a catch — it's also a fundraiser for the Whistler Food Bank. The event runs from 1-4 p.m. at Dusty's and anyone who knows Howard and Lil is welcome. They in turn would welcome any monetary contribution to the food bank.
"This is a food bank fundraiser. We happen to be using our two-bit excuse for the party," said Howard with a self-deprecating wave of his hand.
Theirs is undoubtedly a love story, though they don't talk in those kinds of romantic terms. Rather, they speak like a long-married couple, prompting oft-heard stories from each other, jogging memories, smiling together at shared experiences, telling the kind of tales that wrap around you like a warm blanket on a dreary day.
Howard and Lil met during World War II, rollerskating of all things, and simply liked each other.
"And that was it," said Howard. "We just hit it off right away."
He stands with the teapot and by unspoken consent fills Lil's cup with fresh tea.
"Thank you dear," said Lil, without missing a beat.
Howard was still in the service — ground crew involved in the food service — when they met and heading back to base on the Queen Charlotte Islands.
His time on the Aleutian Islands in the Northern Pacific Ocean, which were occupied in part by Japanese forces, was over and he was tasked now with buying the best of food for the troops, anything to keep the men from going stir crazy in the final year and a half of the war.
Lil pipes in: "He's been keeping my morale up all these years!"
They were married after the war was over. Kids soon followed — Leslee and Bruce.
The Goldsmids owned seven butcher shops in Vancouver. Howard, more often than not, would leave for work by 7 a.m. and wouldn't be back home until 7 p.m.
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