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AFTER 74 WEDDED YEARS, KINDNESS IS BEST GIFT

In 1933, President Franklin D. Roosevelt spoke to the American people over the radio in "fireside chats," the first electronic TV receiver was developed and the 21st Amendment ended prohibition.

And it was in 1933 that Lester and Gladys Doelling of Clearwater were married, on June 24 in Rye, N.Y.

The couple met in Springdale, Conn., at a baseball game in which Gladys' brother was playing. They hit it off and because both were baseball fans, their first official date involved a trip to New York City.

"We went to see a New York Yankees game," he explained.

"We saw Babe Ruth ... and he hit a home run," she clarified, the excitement evident in her voice.

They celebrated their 74th wedding anniversary in June with their children and extended family at a local Chinese restaurant.

In the early 1930s, work was difficult to come by. As part of a Depression-era program, he was offered the job of a milkman and supported his family for 32 years as an employee of Sealtest Dairies. He later owned a floor-waxing business.

He wasn't ready to retire when the couple moved here in 1975. After settling in, he worked for a drugstore and was later employed at Highland Terrace Retirement Home.

When asked how she knew it was love, she had a surprisingly practical reply: "I really didn't, not at first. But we got together a couple of times and I thought he was a very nice person."

Then, as if this was the clincher, she said, "I took him to meet my parents and they liked him!"

She had more advice for newlyweds: "You can't be married and single both."

The Doellings' secret to such a long marriage? Being good to one another and doing whatever it takes to please one another.

She will be 96 in November and he will be 100 years old on Oct. 31.

"He was his mother's pumpkin," Gladys chuckled.

The Doellings are members of First Christian Church, Clearwater; have two daughters, Mary Pasiac and Margaret LeBlanc, both of Palm Harbor; eight grandchildren; 15 great-grandchildren; and a great-great-grandchild.

"We've had our share of fancy presents," she says about anniversary gifts, "but love, care and kindness all year around is the greatest gift we could receive."

50 years and counting for the McDevitts

Matthew and Charlayne McDevitt of Largo celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary with a dinner out with family. Later this summer they plan a trip to Biloxi, Miss.

The McDevitts came here in 1987 from Chicago, the city in which they were married June 8, 1957.

He was a foreman at Illinois Bell Telephone Co. for 28 years; she was a homemaker.

Both are members of St. Jerome Catholic Church, Largo.

The couple have three sons, Larry, Tom and Ed; and three grandchildren, Melissa, Matthew and Katlynn.

Student athlete wins Schwarzkopf award

Lincoln Lucas, a student at Berkeley Preparatory High School, Tampa, has received a H. Norman Schwarzkopf Leadership Award. He was chosen by the West Point Society, Florida West Coast chapter, leadership board as one of five high school juniors who demonstrated exceptional performance in academics, athletics, community service, good citizenship and leadership.

He is training for the 2007 France Triathlon, has raised nearly $5,000 for the Lance Armstrong Foundation by riding his bicycle for more than 1,500 miles over four months and has spent time in Tanzania on a mission to build housing for teachers.

He is the son of Jay and Sharon Lucas of Belleair.

Clearwater woman graduates with honors

Carla Creegan of Clearwater graduated cum laude from Carolinas College of Health and Sciences, Charlotte, N.C., with an Associate of Applied Science degree in nursing. She is also a member of Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society. She works at Morton Plant Hospital's Cardiac Rehabilitation Center as a registered nurse.

She is the wife of H. Joe Creegan, mother of Marc Edwards, and daughter of Charles and Earlene Ramsey Jr. of Largo.

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