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Brothers celebrate four golden anniversaries

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Tara Jeffrey

Ask the Croteau brothers for the secret to a long marriage and you may not get a serious answer.

“Rule number one: the wife is always right,” says Roger Croteau, 70, with a chuckle. “Rule number two: if you find a rule that is wrong, go back to number one.”

He’s seated at a long table set for more than a dozen — six Croteau siblings, their spouses and one reporter — at Tangs restaurant.

“There’s a lot of give and take,” says Ray Croteau, 72. “Sometimes I do a lot more of the taking…”

Echoes of jovial laughter have taken over the family luncheon, held to celebrate four of the brothers — Roger, Ray, Gaston and Maurice — and their wives, Charlotte, Diana, Dorothy and Melody, each marking 50 plus years of marriage. That’s a combined 205 years.

Also in attendance are brothers Andy and Rick — married 42 and 18 years to Mary and Penny respectively — along with big sister Denise Harrington at the head of the table.

“We’ve always had a really close family,” Gaston, 75, says of the Croteau clan, originally from Quebec. “My grandmother and grandfather had 32 children. We have lots of cousins; if I sat down and got serious, I could probably name them all.”

His parents, Armand and Juliette Croteau, migrated to Sarnia-Lambton when the Polymer plant was built in the 1940s. All six kids were raised in Mooretown and have remained in Sarnia-Lambton to raise families of their own (with the exception of Rick, who lives in Chatham).

With children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, a typical Croteau family gathering has upwards of 70 people.

“My mother used to have us all over for dinner every Sunday in Mooretown,” says Gaston. “And we all get together for Christmas, and Easter brunch.

“It’s just normal for us to all be together,” Denise chimes in. “We’re happy that we’re all still able to do this, and we’re all still here. We’ve been blessed.”

As for the four couples reaching the golden anniversary milestone, Diane Croteau says it’s something the whole family is proud of.

“It’s got to be somewhat unusual. You’ve got everyone here, alive, together, with this many years of marriage,” she says. “For us, it’s all about tolerance and respect. And we still just have a great time together.

“And behind every one of these brothers,” adds Mary, “is a strong woman.”

The conversation turns to family Christmas, and who’s hosting this year’s gathering, while a dozen or so fortune cookies crack open.

Mary Croteau stands up to read hers aloud: “You are capable of extremely hard work and dedication.

“I think that sounds just right.”

 

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