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Eric and Dorothy Worsdell of Spring Hill to mark 70th anniversary

SPRING HILL — Eric Worsdell can recall the gown his future wife was wearing the first time he saw her.

"It was blue, wasn't it?" he asked Dorothy Worsdell last week.

Yes, she said, "It was a pale, pale blue, a new color they called ice blue."

This is no small feat of memory, given that she wore this gown to a ball in Truro, Nova Scotia, on New Year's Eve, 1942.

Today, the Worsdells will celebrate their 70th wedding anniversary and Eric Worsdell's 92nd birthday, with lunch at a restaurant.

They will be joined by their son, Eric Patrick Worsdell of Port Ritchey, daughter, Diane Aloi of Brooksville, and some 20 friends. Another daughter, Carol, who lives in Gloucester, Mass., won't be in town but will be thinking about them, they said.

But back to that first meeting.

Eric Worsdell was stationed in Canada with the Royal Air Force. His future wife was a local, 18 years old and a fresh graduate of a strict, all-girl's Catholic school.

Each was smitten with the other on first sight.

"He walked across the floor and gave a little bow and said to me, 'May I have this dance?' " Dorothy Worsdell, 88, remembers.

One of the first things she noticed: His accent didn't make him sound as foreign as some of the other RAF personnel stationed in Nova Scotia.

"He didn't speak funny," she said.

She also noticed that "he was very handsome," she said. "I fell head over heels."

So did her future husband:

"I danced with her all evening," Eric Worsdell said.

They agree it didn't take long for them to get engaged, but disagree on how it happened.

"He asked me," Dorothy Worsdell said.

No, said her husband: "She asked me."

Either way, the wedding almost didn't come off.

When Eric told her he was not a Catholic, she announced curtly, "That's the end."

Not to be deterred, Eric took up studies to become a Catholic and took vows just five days before the wedding, on his 22nd birthday.

He was assigned back to England shortly afterward. With German subs patrolling the Atlantic Ocean, it was five months before Dorothy could join him.

They didn't stay in England long.

After the war, housing and jobs were so scarce there that the couple moved to America.

Eric, drawing on his military experience, landed a job with a valve company in Massachusetts. He rose quickly from his first job, sweeping the factory floor.

He earned a college degree in business and, ultimately, a promotion to director of purchasing.

When asked about overcoming their early separation, the uncertainty of finding a career and being away from their roots and families, Dorothy Worsdell shrugged and said: "Everybody has problems. You work through them. We take care of each other."

Added Eric, "We took marriage as a work of art. You had to get through it. We rarely disagree on anything."

In fact, they are so sure that they know the secrets to long, happy marriage that Dorothy Worsdell wrote a recipe for it for their 67th anniversary.

You must have passion — "two hearts, which, in the heat of the moment, will melt into one," she wrote.

You must keep things interesting, and she advised couples to "season with the spice of life."

It takes tolerance, she wrote: "Continue to simmer indefinitely on a back burner while straining away hatred and resentment as these will cause the mixture to turn sour."

It also requires respecting one another's wishes, she said last week. "When he didn't want to do something or partake of something, I said, 'All right, I'll do it your way.' "

Her husband has learned this lesson, too.

"Put your arm around me," she said when they posed for anniversary photo.

He did as he was told.