George and Genelle Azevedo know how to make things last. The
couple own seven vehicles originally built before World War II. And
Genelle has a room dedicated to collectible dolls, some dating back
a hundred years, in their ranch-style home. But the long-lasting
thing the couple cherishes most is their 60-year marriage.
Gilroy – George and Genelle Azevedo know how to make things last. The couple own seven vehicles originally built before World War II. And Genelle has a room dedicated to collectible dolls, some dating back a hundred years, in their ranch-style home. But the long-lasting thing the couple cherishes most is their 60-year marriage.
“He wanted a party,” Genelle said, looking at George. “I asked him if he wanted to go to Hawaii or have a party.”
The 85-year-old pair celebrated their anniversary Sept. 24 with family and close friends in the garden of their country home.
“Our bridesmaids were here,” said Genelle. “It was mostly family, relatives and old-time friends.”
Some of the family members stayed for the night. A granddaughter spent the night in the doll room, sleeping on a twin bed that George had used as a child. The room is full of dolls on shelves handmade by George. In a glass case, Genelle keeps a set of Armand Marseille creations made in Germany at the turn of the century that George purchased for her. A favorite doll, a dark-haired girl with rosy cheeks, has a special place in a baby buggy in the corner of the room.
Genelle started out collecting a handful of dolls for her daughters and granddaughters, but the collection quickly grew.
“People started giving them to me and we would stop by antique shops on our travels,” Genelle said.
Though the couple relished the time spent with family at their home, they spend much of their time traveling.
The two are members of four classic car clubs, and participate in a car tour at least once a month. Their other time is taken up visiting their children, six grandchildren and two great-grandchildren – often while taking cross-country drives in one of their antique cars.
“They were made to run, so we like to run them,” George said. “We haven’t let too much grass grow under our feet.”
Though they have taken to traveling in their older age, Genelle is no stranger to Gilroy. She grew up in town and her family, the Willsons, had been in town for three generations.
George’s family moved from Chowchilla, in the San Joaquin Valley, to settle in Gilroy shortly before he met Genelle. Both his parents immigrated from the Azores Islands, in the Atlantic ocean. The young boy spoke only Portuguese until an older brother started school and began teaching him English.
By the age of 15, George had dropped out of high school to drive trucks.
“Both our fathers were very ill and ended up as invalids,” said Genelle. “The mothers had to make a living and we helped out.”
Genelle recalled visiting her grandparents on Cohansey Avenue when she was about 21. She heard a buzzing noise.
“I was outside talking to my grandfather and I asked him, “What’s that noise?” Genelle said. The young man across the street built model airplanes, her grandfather said. That young man was George.
The couple dated for four years while Genelle worked as a switchboard operator and then as a bank teller, and George got a job drilling wells. Genelle gave up her job when the two decided to marry and George continued to work with wells until he got his contracting license.
The couple married Sept. 23, 1945 at a Presbyterian church that used to be at the corner of Fifth and Church streets in the center of Gilroy. George dressed in a dashing pinstriped suit with his wavy hair slicked back and Genelle dressed in a slim white, dress with intricate details along the train.
For their 50th anniversary, they pulled out their old wedding garb and posed for a photograph. The petite couple still fit into the clothes they wore on their wedding day, and the garments still looked like new in the portrait.
The couple consider themselves lucky to be together since George has struggled with his health since he retired in 1977.
“I’m lucky to live this long. My health hasn’t been the best,” he said. He had three heart surgeries, three knee surgeries and a stomach operation in the last five years.
“We had our ups and downs of health,” Genelle said. “But we always got along.”