By Kelly Ward
The Texas Catholic
At the young ages of 16 and 17, Raymond and Lupe Zuniga received permission from their parents to get married at St. Mary of Carmel Catholic Church. They were told to wait a year before tying the knot and at the time they both thought that a year sounded like an eternity.
“When we decided that we wanted to get married, his parents were kind of hesitant about it,” Lupe said, “and my mom and my dad gave me a whole lot of lectures about it. They said ‘you know when you get married it’s not going to be for a week or two; it’s going to be forever, regardless of what you go through or whatever comes your way, you just have to take what comes.’ ”
They have been able to overcome the hurdles of life together and are excited to celebrate at the Diocesan Silver and Gold Anniversary Mass at the Cathedral Shrine of the Virgin of Guadalupe on Sept. 6, which marks the anniversary of their wedding 61 years ago.
The Zuniga’s story began at the El Chico canning company in Dallas. Lupe found work at the warehouse during the summer months of school vacation and Raymond started working there shortly after her. When Raymond saw Lupe, he immediately knew that she was the one he wanted to grow old with.
“He used to chase me around, but I just didn’t like him,” Lupe said. “When I would ride the bus to work, he would follow the bus and I would transfer downtown to go to work and he would literally follow the bus. He would literally honk and wave for me to come with him and I would shake my head and say, no.’”
When Lupe finally agreed to go on a date with him to the movies, she stood him up at the theater. Raymond’s love for her persisted and Lupe hastily grew fond of him. Their relationship began to bloom and they were married within a year and a half of meeting.
Through their 61 years of marriage, the couple overcame many hurdles financially, physically and even emotionally. For the first eight years of their marriage, they were not able to have children and times were tough when they lost their first baby late term in the pregnancy. In time, however, they were blessed with three sons and one daughter.
The couple could not be more proud of their growing family legacy; they beamed with delight as they spoke about their 12 grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren.
“I think it’s amazing that they have been together for so long,” said 12-year-old granddaughter Jocelyn Guevara. “Hopefully, when I grow up, I will have a marriage like that. They do have their ups and downs but they always get through them and they are always having a good time together.”
The couple still attends St. Mary of Carmel Catholic Church every week. They both love the church and the memories it holds for their marriage together.
“I learned a whole lot,” Raymond said. “The key to a good marriage is to give one day for God. The first priority is on Sunday; you need to go to Mass.”
Lupe agreed, adding that it is important to enjoy your family, communicate and make decisions together as a couple.
“They always have a smile,” said Lupe Salazar, a longtime friend. “I just couldn’t say enough about them. I have seen very few couples that respect each other like they do.”