Jewell Cardwell

When the question is asked, seriously or in jest, of a husband and wife, “If you had it to do over, would you marry your spouse again?” Robert “Bob” and Dorothy Nettle, without pause, would answer “yes.”

In fact, the much-loved Barberton couple, married 70 years this month, did just that Saturday during a symbolic ceremony at Johnson United Methodist Church in Norton.

While some might call it a renewal of their wedding vows, the couple’s five daughters — who planned the formal observance — saw it differently. They called it the wedding the couple never really had.

In doing so, super-talented daughters Karen Butler, Deb Crawford, Renee Ramunni, Claudia Ward and Jenni Isom — dressed in cream-colored tops and black pants, referring to themselves as “her matrons of honor” and “his best girls” — pulled out all of the stops, including as many bells and whistles as possible to the delight of their parents and some 150 invited guests.

The silver-haired bride, escorted down the aisle by her daughters, donned a white shell and a royal-blue pantsuit. Her groom, awaiting her at the altar, wore a navy suit, white shirt and cranberry necktie.

It truly was a family affair all the way, with granddaughter Amy Montieth, on the piano, playing a medley of the couple’s favorite tunes from the ’40s — Twilight Time, Accustomed to Your Face, Fly Me to the Moon, Oh Promise Me — and reserving Canon in D Major for the unusual processional.

Exchange of vows

The Rev. Tim Monteith, Amy’s husband and pastor of Mount Tabor United Methodist Church in East Canton, presided over the exchange of vows, which the couple repeated with strong voices and sealed with a kiss.

“For over 70 years, the two of you have laughed together, struggled together and succeeded together. And even gone to the Senate,” Monteith said, referencing his grandfather-in-law’s storied political career that included seven years in the Ohio House of Representatives and another seven in the Ohio Senate.

Monteith likened marriage to Christmas morning, when excited children run to see what gifts have been left for them.

“You’ve unwrapped the gift God has given you. A gift that keeps on giving. … And you’ve raised a wonderful family together,” Monteith said.

That family soon will expand to 65 when great-granddaughter Rachel Blanton of Keller, Texas, delivers the Nettles’ first great-great-grandchild in September.

Among symbolic family touches were the corsages fashioned from paper and tablecloths by daughter Deb Crawford, whose husband is Summit County council member Tim Crawford; and a three-tiered cake with two side cakes made by the Nettles’ nephew, Tom Bell, whose real business is repairing harps (he used to play with the Akron and Canton Symphony orchestras).

Kim Schwiegenhauser of Norton designed the unique wooden cake topper — a replica of the couple’s wedding photo, he in his WWII Army Air Corps uniform and she in a print dress borrowed from her aunt. On display nearby was a floral-patterned wedding dress, just like the one her aunt loaned her, that the bride later fashioned from the same fabric.

Well-wishers included Speaker of the House William “Bill” Batchelder and his wife, Judge Alice Moore Batchelder, 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals; Lynn Slaby, former member of the Ohio House of Representatives and current commissioner of the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio, and his wife, state Rep. Marilyn Slaby; and state Sen. Tom Sawyer, who presented official proclamations and lauded the couple with messages about their integrity and generosity and Bob for always looking out for his constituency.

Elwood Palmer, Barberton’s service director, served as the official wedding photographer as his gift to Nettle, whom he called his mentor.

Family and friends

Also on hand to raise glasses of grape juice in the couple’s honor were the bride’s sisters Virginia Miller, Peg Beckett, Cathy Bryant, Anne Hansel and Beth McConaghy; the groom’s sister Gladys Bell; and long-time friends Lois Harold Eckart and Dee and Mel Hayes; and the dedicated kitchen crew, Jan and Ron Devault and Gail Williams.

Bob Nettle, also known for his sense of humor, talked about how on his wedding night his bride “slapped my face three times because I kept falling asleep.”

One thing’s for sure, and it’s no laughing matter, Bob and Dorothy Nettle have never fallen asleep when it comes to putting family first and honoring friendships.

For that they all say Salute!

Jewell Cardwell can be reached at 330-996-3567 or

Given the sheer volume of folks reaching the milestone age of 100 or beyond or couples married 65 years or, I’m unable to recognize each one with a special story. So, if you’re interested in saluting the centenarian in your life or that anniversary couple celebrating 65 years or more of wedded bliss, please email or call 330-996-3360.