Series: Insights from Couples Married 50 Years or More!

(Jeff Heyman, Photographer)
Gloria and Dick Marchick celebrate 63 years of marriage this December. They attribute the success and longevity of their relationship to being able to “renegotiate the contract” as their lives and circumstances change.

    Gloria and Dick Marchick met at a frat party at Washington University in St. Louis where he was a medical student, and she was working on a degree in education. Their conversation, she remembers, was engaging and he was so charming that, when she needed a date for a Halloween party, she tracked him down.
    He didn’t remember her. Trying to jog his memory didn’t work, so she made him a deal: “Here’s my number. Ask your friends about me. If you’re interested, call by Wednesday because if I don’t hear from you, I’m asking someone else.”
    That phone call was one of the best decisions Dick ever made. They married the following year and this December marks their 63rd anniversary. They have a new puppy, two Hawaiian trips planned, a granddaughter’s wedding and several volunteer commitments to the community.
    So how does a country boy from Cheyenne, Wyoming, one of five children born to immigrant parents, meet a sophisticated girl from St. Louis, who swore she’d never leave, and end up together as California residents and world travelers? An optimistic, adventurous mindset and a shared commitment to family are traits which characterize this enduring partnership.
    The first five years of married life were in St. Louis, close to Gloria’s family and starting their own, when a career opportunity for Dick changed everything. The Berkeley obstetrics practice he joined was with a group of forerunners who laid the groundwork allowing dads in the delivery room and using the Lamaze method for labor. “It was a wonderful specialty,” said Dick, “I loved sharing that time of life with new parents.”
    This, however, was the toughest time of their marriage. “I felt like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz,” said Gloria, referring to the drastic differences from the Midwest to California in the ‘60’s during the Vietnam War riots and the Civil Rights movement. She was a young mom with two small children and their son, sick with asthma, required shots every six hours. Dick was never home. “I had nobody. It was a very lonely, tough time for me,” said Gloria. She made friends and returned to teaching, specializing in ESL, English as a Second Language. first at Acalanes Union High School District, then at Berkeley, training student teachers, and finally at DVC.
    The secret to a good marriage is being willing to “renegotiate the contract” when the needs of one aren’t being met. “We are both strong personalities and our union could have been a power struggle, but we learned to recognize that and fix it,” explained Gloria. When Dick turned 60, he announced he wanted to retire, sell the big house and travel. She was skeptical, but agreed. When Gloria won a Fulbright scholarship to teach in Slovakia, off they went. Five years later, she won another to Morocco.
    “When we travel, we sometimes have to decide who will be dictator for the day and then share the duty, because we both like to be in charge,” laughed Gloria. Their three children (Patty, David, and Sarah), their spouses and six grandchildren have benefited from their adventures. Each grandchild takes a trip with them when they celebrate their Bar or Bat Mitzvahs.
    “I believe it’s a better world now, than when we were starting our marriage. Today there is more integration and more opportunities for women,” said Dick. “In my day, there were only two women in my medical school class and now women outnumber the men. Our granddaughters have more choices.”
    “We ache a bit more now but feel lucky to have each other at this point in our journey,” said Gloria.
    “She’s the best thing that ever happened to me,” said Dick. Good thing he made that phone call.
Amy Moellering can be reached at

(Courtesy of Gloria Marchick)
Gloria and Dick Marchick on their wedding day in December 1960.

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