Saanich Mayor Fred Haynes and his wife Cathy made a big poster to mark their neighbours’ 66th wedding anniversary. (Photo courtesy Fred Haynes)

Saanich Mayor Fred Haynes and his wife Cathy made a big poster to mark their neighbours’ 66th wedding anniversary. (Photo courtesy Fred Haynes)

Saanich mayor helps neighbours mark 66th wedding anniversary amid pandemic

‘It’s been a very wonderful life:’ Jo and Ed Ponsford celebrated 66 years of love

A Saanich couple marked 66 years of marriage in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic and Mayor Fred Haynes decided to help them celebrate – from a distance.

Jo Ponsford, 89, and Ed Ponsford, 90, celebrated nearly 70 years of love on Friday, April 17. They were surprised when their neighbours, Haynes and his wife Cathy, appeared on their lawn on Friday morning with a large personalized poster and an anniversary greeting.

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“This is a special day,” Haynes said.

The Ponsford’s daughter-in-law, Bernadette Ponsford, was the one who told the Haynes about Jo and Ed’s special day. She lives on Mayne Island and many of their other family members live even further away and wouldn’t be able to join them to celebrate due to the pandemic. Their anniversary was going to be fairly quiet, she explained.

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His gesture “really made their day,” Bernadette said. “They think the world of him.”

She added that they aren’t big fans of parties anyway, so a kind, socially distanced message from the mayor was right up their alley. Bernadette and her husband, Rick, also sent over a pot of stew, a loaf of sourdough and a bouquet of red roses to mark the occasion since they couldn’t all get together.

She said her in-laws are a “wonderful” couple.

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Jo said she and her husband of 66 years are so grateful to the Haynes family for their kind gesture. They made a big sign with a big heart on it.

She and Ed have lived in the same home for 65 years while the Haynes family only recently moved in. The families haven’t known each other long, but Jo and Ed have enjoyed watching the mayor’s home be built, were intrigued to see the living roof go in and can see the heart made of string lights that Haynes hung up for frontline workers from their window.

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Bernadette admires the longevity of Ed and Jo’s love – 66 years is a long time, she said.

Their secret to a long, happy marriage? Jo says it’s all about “being compatible.”

She explained that she and Ed have similar interests – they both play the accordion and enjoy gardening, among other things.

“We’re never bored,” Jo said with a laugh. “It’s been a very wonderful life.”

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Ed and Jo Ponsford were married 66 years ago. (Photo courtesy Fred Haynes)

Ed and Jo Ponsford were married 66 years ago. (Photo courtesy Fred Haynes)