By Kirby Brooks
Most mornings, you’ll find Charley and Gloria Melville at Mass at All Hallows Church, but on July 31, it was an extra special Mass for the couple because on that day, they renewed their wedding vows to celebrate 60 years together. Born in Elmira, New York, Charley entered the U.S. Navy in 1944 and received his gold wings in July 1947. He wed Gloria four years later and says that during his 22 years of active service — during which he flew from 14 different aircraft carriers as well as land bases in the U.S., North Africa, Spain, France, Italy and Cuba — the best thing that ever happened to him was meeting and marrying Gloria, who hails from Pueblo, Colo.
Though the Melvilles’ wedding date is Aug. 11, on July 29 they celebrated their union by embarking upon the Spirit of San Diego Harbor Cruise with their children and seven grandchildren — hitting the dance floor with everyone one of them!
Gloria and Charley have four daughters — Cheryl Wendy (Jenner), Debbie Anne (Beacham), Mary Margaret (Peggy Stern), and Heather Marie (Bloemperk) — and Charley has always complimented his Navy wife for giving birth to all their daughters on weekends, holidays or on shore duty, so he never missed a day of flying for the Navy.
Daughter Cherie Wendy passed away in 2007, but her son, Matthew Jenner, remains a La Jolla resident. Debbie and her husband Louis call La Jolla home, along with their three children Alex, Marion and Siena. Peggy and her husband Russ live in San Diego. Heather and her husband Ron live in Brussels, Belgium with their three boys, dubbed by their grandparents as the “Brussels Sprouts.”
After moving around wherever Charley was stationed, the Melville family settled in La Jolla in 1966 and quickly became involved with All Hallows Catholic Church. Gloria was elected president of the church’s Women’s Guild in 1969 and in 1976, the couple was asked to become members of the Equestrian
Order of the Holy Sepulchreof Jerusalem, a Roman Catholic organization dating back to the 11
July 31 wasn’t the first time Charley, 85, and Gloria, 80, said, “I do” again. They were married in Jacksonville, Fla. in 1951 and through the years have restated their “promise” many times.
“When we go to a wedding, we use it as an opportunity to renew our own vows,” Charley said, clearly still smitten with his bride.
While the Melvilles acknowledge that everyone argues, they agree that their faith has been a large part of their staying power. That, and their ability to balance each other out. “Charley is so positive. His humor keeps us on an even keel,” Gloria said, adding, “We live thanking God for what we have.”
The Melvilles are also proof that the advice “forgive and forget” and “never go to bed angry” works for a reason, although Charley jokes, “one time when we were in a fight, I didn’t sleep for a week!”
The couple also praises Cardinal John J. O’Connor of New York City for impacting their marriage and fostering commitment to their faith. The couple met O’Connor in the 1960s and their “faith blossomed.”
“He has taught us what it means to have a good Catholic marriage,” Charley said.
In 2008, Charley made his bucket list of places to visit and things to do, meeting up with his brothers John, 84, and Roger, 77, on the East Coast to visit the farms of their Civil War ancestors in Pennsylvania and New York. Together, Gloria and Charley have researched and visited Marian shrines (places that honor Mary, the mother of Jesus) in various countries, and driven to military cemeteries and war memorials throughout Europe.
They said their family motto has been “Faith, family, friends and fun” for 60 years now … and holding.