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French connection sparks love story that spans 70 years
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John, Jeanine Moody say becoming Christians changed their lives
By Carol McIntire
When a young soldier, who took a year of French in college, met a young French woman in 1950, it sparked a love story that has spanned 70 years.
The young soldier, John Moody of Carrollton, and the young French woman, Jeanine Dulac of Chambersburg, PA., met when both attended an event at the officers’ club of the Letterkenny Army Depot.
John was discharged from the US Army in 1949 and signed up with the Inactive Reserves and was called up as soon as the Korean War began. He was invited to the party at the officer’s club. Jeanine attended the party as a guest of a member.
“She was one of the young Catholic ladies invited to the party to entertain the soldiers,” John related recently, just days after the couple celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary.
“I remember a woman coming over to the table where I was seated and asking me if I wanted to dance with one of the young women,” he related. “Of course, I said sure, and was introduced to Jeanine.”
During their first dance, John learned she was from France and didn’t speak a lot of English. He shared that he took a year of French in college.
“There was just something in that French connection,” he related as a smile broke out across his face. “I was smitten by her immediately and told her I would like to see her again and we began dating.”
About a year later, on April 21, 1951, the couple exchanged wedding vows in the Methodist Church at Chambersburg. Not long after the wedding, John learned from his captain he was called up for shipment to Korea.
“Two weeks later he said anyone with prior oversees duty was going to be discharged and would not be shipped to Korea,” John said, explaining he spent time in Japan during the occupation of Japan at the end of World War II and would be one those discharged.
“Jeanine and I moved to Carrollton near the end of that year and have been here ever since,” he commented.
The couple raised three children in Carrollton, Patrick, who lives in Wainwright (Tuscarawas County), Paul (Carrollton) and Yvette Ewing (Dellroy). They have six grandchildren and eight great grandchildren.
Yvette said her parents held the family together and set an excellent example for their children. “I remember they both prayed every day for us kids and the family. We read the Bible and had family prayer time. We’d invite the neighbors over and they enjoyed it as well,” she said.
John credits their strong Christian beliefs as the rock in their marriage.
“I’d say the most important thing in our marriage was that we became Christians. That really changed our lives – sealed our marriage.”
“We’ve lived for the Lord all these years,” he proudly stated, adding they both love each other dearly. “We might not have always agreed on everything, but we love each other deeply and put things in the hands of the Lord.”
The couple cherishes the many trips they took to France to visit Jeanine’s family, many of them with the children.
“We spent 10 days in Switzerland in the Swiss Alps and took vacations to Belgium and Holland. They were all wonderful times,” John recalled.
Then there were the annual trips to Chambersburg to visit the town where they met. John termed each of the trips as “special to us.”
John is the last living charter member of Wesley Community Chapel. The church was organized in 1979. He continues to attend services at the 12th St., Carrollton, church today. He is also a founding member of the Loaves and Fishes program and has been a volunteer for the group, which is under the guidance of the Carroll County Ministerial Association, since 1989.
Many residents of Carrollton will remember John as their “mailman” on city route 1. He began a career with the U.S. Postal Service in 1955 and spent the next 34 years delivering mail to 543 patrons on the route. He remembers those years fondly, saying it was a lot different in those years than it is now.
“We had to case our own mail – memorize the house numbers,” he said, noting he walked about six miles every day in all kinds of weather. “I can honestly say, I enjoyed my work.”
He retired from the post office in 1989 and became a member of Carrollton Council, serving until 2000.
Jeanine, a housewife and mother, also worked at Al’s IGA in the meat department for several years and then at Kishman’s IGA in Minerva in the meat department.
Though their life has changed drastically over the last year and a half, John still looks at Jeanine with loving eyes when he speaks to her, which, for most of 2020 was through a window at Carroll Healthcare Center.
Jeanine moved from their home to the center in January 2020 and John spent his days there visiting with her.
He remembers one day in March all too well.
“Paul and I were visiting her in her room one day in March when one of the staff members came in and said we had to leave – they were shutting the facility down due to COVID,” John said, his eyes beginning to fill with tears.
“I have to tell you, I’ve shed many a tear, spent many a lonesome evening at home without her. We were so close and then…she was gone from the house. It’s been very hard not being able to see her. Eventually, we were permitted to have window visits and just recently, we were allowed to schedule visits and go into her room,” he said looking at his wife, seated beside him at a table in the church where they attended many, many services together.
Even though Jeanine couldn’t remember many of the trips they shared over the years or the memorial moments which John spoke about, it was evident in her eyes they shared a special bond.
“It’s been a wonderful marriage. We love one another – have loved each other dearly,” said John, bringing the conversation back to a playful level. “She’s nine days older than me,” the 93-year-old noted. “Isn’t that right” he said looking at his bride with a smile on his face. Jeanine smiled and looked back.
The pandemic separated the couple for the past year, but it didn’t stop them from celebrating their 70th anniversary by attending church at Wesley Community Chapel April 25 and with a small family gathering.
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