“The other day, I put on a striped shirt and asked him how I looked, and he said, ‘like you’re in prison,’” Carolyn Luciani said with a laugh. This couple is quite the pair of jokesters, usually found bantering back and forth.
Carolyn and her husband, Reverend George Luciani, met at a bible college in Iowa in 1954. George was a Michigan boy from the Upper Peninsula (UP) who wanted to become a pastor, loved pasties, and had a notable sense of humor. Carolyn was a Mississippi gal who felt a call to the mission field and didn’t even know the UP existed.
The couple was introduced through mutual friends. Two years and many laughs later, friendship became love, and they married on May 29, 1956. A dear friend of Carolyn’s wrote a poem for the couple, outlining their love story:
One day he gently asked her,
“Please, may I have your hand?”
She answered, “How about the heart
That goes with that demand.”
“That’s fine with me,” he then replied,
If you will take my name.”
“Folks can’t pronounce it right,” she said,
But I’ll take it just the same.”
And so the heart of Miss You-All,
The dark-haired boy did win,
We know his name had to be George,
And hers was Carolyn.
The South had won a victory
The North had had a fall,
Because the boy from Michigan
Now gladly said, “You-all.”
By Verda Ittle
Over the years, George and Carolyn have lived throughout Michigan, primarily the UP, with George sometimes traveling 100 miles on a Sunday to preach at four churches. Together, they have tracked down long-lost relatives in Italy, participated in a pastoral exchange in England, and toured France, Israel, and Belgium. The couple has raised four children, ten grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren.
After retiring from the ministry, Carolyn and George moved to Marshall, Mich. Then, George began showing signs of dementia. As the dementia progressed, they decided to move to Chelsea to receive support from the Chelsea Retirement Community (CRC) and to stay close to family. Nine years later, the couple continues to live together in the Dancey House Apartments at CRC.
Carolyn loves the community feel of CRC. “I walk out into the dining room and see lots of people I know, and they all immediately ask how George is doing, when can they come visit, and offer prayers and encouragement,” she said. “The loving concern and support of everyone here has kept us going, thanks be to God.”
Last month, this beautiful couple celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary. George has been on hospice since last October, so Carolyn decided to open their apartment to friends and family who came to enjoy cookies and punch, sing hymns, and share memories.
“George had the biggest smile on his face that day,” Carolyn said. “It is the happiest he has been; he was ‘there’ the whole day.”