Having fun and laughing keys to couple's 50 married years

  • Jim and Lillian Katzbeck, formerly of Hoffman Estates, recently celebrated 50 years of a loving marriage.

    Jim and Lillian Katzbeck, formerly of Hoffman Estates, recently celebrated 50 years of a loving marriage. Courtesy of Tony Carone

Published7/11/2008 12:05 AM

Just teenagers when they fell in love, the two sweethearts who knew they were meant for each other and who recently celebrated their 50th anniversary continue to express their devotion.

Take for instance the ceramic heart imprinted with "I love you." Jim and Lillian Katzbeck find pleasure in surprising each other with the little piece they hide in their home, car or maybe in a shoe. Whoever finds it thinks of a cleverer place to hide it.


It's a token of love, according to Lillian Katzbeck, who thinks it worthwhile to have fun in a marriage, one of the secrets of nuptial longevity.

"Don't be afraid to be silly and laugh at yourself," Lillian said. "Having fun is a big factor. One of our secrets to success is to say 'I love you' every night."

Residents of Hoffman Estates for 25 years, the Katzbecks retired to own the Calico B&B in the Smoky Mountains; they still reside in Tennessee. They returned to celebrate their golden anniversary and renewed their vows May 17 at a Mass in Holy Family Catholic Church in Inverness, dined with 85 guests in Chandler's Chop House and Grille and continued the party in the Hoffman Estates home of son-in-law and daughter Tony and Kimmarie Carone. Tony Carone is the popular and gregarious gemologist at Rahl Jewelers in Hoffman Estates.

It was at Lillian Marker's senior prom, when she was 16 and Jim Katzbeck was 17, that Lillian found an engagement ring tied to her wrist corsage. She recalls the wedding with friend and maid of honor Nancy Ebstein and junior bridesmaid Mary Vachlin her sister. Ebstein and her husband, Lou, and Vachlin and her husband, Carl, and Lillian's older sister, Barbara, and her husband, Bob Tucibat, were at the 50th.

The Rev. Patrick Brennan, who also witnessed their 25th renewal in St. Hubert Catholic Church, was presider of the liturgy in Holy Family. He congratulated the couple on their commitment and held them up as an example. Lillian recalled her emotions.

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"I felt like I was Cinderella with my same Prince Charming waiting for me," said Lillian who wore a long pink dress topped with a jacket of embroidered jewels and held the same lace covered prayer book she carried at their 1958 wedding.

Kimmarie made an altar cloth using the wedding photos of her parents and siblings, the ones that show just a couple's hands and the wedding rings. She incorporated the photos of her parents and siblings, Kevin Katzbeck and his wife Debbie, Shawn and his wife, Teena, Stacy Gillespie and her husband, John, and her own and Tony's hands.

Reception guests from England, Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin, South Carolina and Tennessee toasted the couple. Among them were Tony Carone's mother, Marie, and his sisters, Sandy Carone and Joanne Marinelli, and brother-in-law, Ernie Marinelli of Hoffman Estates. Former Hoffman neighbors Marian Jindra, Fred and Millie Zerimka, Larry and Barb Antos and Andy and Lois McPherson also joined the party.

One of the reception's highlights was a song dedicated to the celebrants by adopted grandson Tony Rivera of Tennessee. The noted baritone sang "When You Say You Love Me," a favorite of the couple.


Jim Katzbeck believes strongly that communication, compromise and humor are secrets of a long and happy marriage.

Oh, and the ceramic heart?

"It's just something we started as one way to communicate," Jim Katzbeck said. "There's still one hidden somewhere."

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