Great Martha’s Vineyard couples: Debbie and Eric Magnuson

Originally posted on Nov. 19, 2014.

In an occasional series, some great Island couples tell us how they’ve made marriages last. We salute the stamina, love, good will and compromise required of couples who stay together for a long time. Debbie and Eric Magnuson were married on October 12, 1968, at the Lambert’s Cove Church.

How did you meet? Eric was my sister’s classmate. He is five years older, and I knew him from West Tisbury School.

Who proposed and how? It was a mutual decision — we went together two years.

The Magnusons started dating, and got married, in the sixties. — Photos courtesy of Deb & Eric Mag
The Magnusons started dating, and got married, in the sixties. — Photos courtesy of Deb & Eric Magnuson

Describe your Vineyard wedding. Small — Lambert’s Cove Church doesn’t hold too many people, so some guests were just invited to the reception at Chilmark Community Center. Decorations were big crepe paper flowers and streamers. We had an Island band, my Dad knew them. Annie Kelly, good family friend, catered it with simple food and punch. My Dad, who liked his drinks, snuck a bottle of something into one bowl of punch and almost gave Annie a heart attack — she was a teetotaller.

How many children? Did any of them stay here? We have two children. Sara was our firstborn and she has given us two wonderful grandchildren — Ashleigh, 20, and Michael, 17. She lives very near us with her husband, Paul, and the kids. Eric, our second child, has a wonderful family. Wife, Ginger, and boys Ryan, 16, and Owen, 13. They live in Burlington. And we see them as much as we can.

Do you both work? Eric has retired from carpentry but does caretaking, and we have an orchard so that keeps him busy. Debbie had a career of 31 years as a hairdresser, and retired to take care of the babies, newborn to three years. My dream job!

Briefly describe your years together – the good, the bad, and the wonderful….. 45 years of wedded bliss? Yes, most of the time!

The Good: Parenting together, but that was also challenging! We had trips with the kids, trips with just the two of us, which we believe are important. We’ve had a few surgeries but are basically healthy, and looking forward to many more years together.

Has the Vineyard been the best place to live your lives together? A resounding YES!

Why? We both were born here and love the Island, the seasons, the people. I love that when I go to the store or the PO I always run into friends to chat with for a minute. The Island pulls together for others in tragedy and illness. We feel so lucky to live where we do in W.T.

If you had one piece of advice to a couple about to be married, what would it be? Trust, respect, love, care, Golden Rule, go on short trips together — no kids. And date night.