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Renewed promise

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  • | 11:00 p.m. February 18, 2015
Ellie and Frank Gooch attended the Anniversary Mass Feb. 7. Photo by Amanda Morales
Ellie and Frank Gooch attended the Anniversary Mass Feb. 7. Photo by Amanda Morales
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Through sickness and in health, more than 300 couples renewed their vows Feb. 7 at the Anniversary Mass held at Epiphany Cathedral, in Venice, for members of all Sarasota Catholic parishes.

Among the couples were Ellie and Frank Gooch of St. Martha Catholic Church, who renewed the promise they made to each another 56 years prior. The promise of sickness and health truly resonated with the Goochs through Frank’s multiple heart attacks and surgeries. Time and laughter has proven to be the best medicine for their marriage.

“Behind every good man is a better woman,” Frank said. “She’s the most unselfish person in the world.”

The foundation of their relationship is built on learning to laugh things off. The Gooches’ story starts in the small town of Holden, Maine, where the couple met while in high school and working at a theater Frank’s father owned.

“He was a year younger than me at the time so he was still a bit of a nerd,” Ellie said.

The two dated on and off before they attended different colleges. When Ellie took a trip to the University of Maine where Frank was studying, she happened to attend a concert in which Frank was playing the trombone.

“I got up to take a solo and out of the 2,000 people there I spotted Ellie,” Frank said. “She was dancing with some guy, on my turf.”

That’s when Frank knew he had to make a move if he wanted a chance with Ellie. He made an excuse to make a trip back home to see Ellie’s parents and convince her to go steady with him. It worked. They dated until Ellie graduated from college and wed in 1959.

In their first year of marriage — exactly nine months and five days after — Frank and Ellie welcomed their first of five children, Michael. Together the couple worked through the death of Frank’s father, raising five children and a move across the country to California for Frank’s business.

When Frank was 39 years old he suffered two heart attacks, and by the time his 40th birthday came around he had endured another. Frank credits being alive today to humor and Ellie. He says she stood by his side through multiple heart attacks, bypass surgery and during the road to recovery. Ellie helped Frank stick to a strict diet and exercise regimen to prevent any future heart attacks.

As for advice the couple has for young couples starting their relationships or marriage, they said it is crucial to remember that each person is an independent individual with their own interests.

“You should fight fair,” Ellie said. “Everybody has an equal opportunity to say their part. That’s what I told my daughter on her wedding day. When you respond to that person rather than respond in anger think, ‘How would I want him to respond?’”

300 - Couples in attendence

90 - Couples married

50 - years or more

76 - Years the longest-married couple in attendance has been married

25 - Years the shortest-married couple in attendance has been married



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