‘The Lord’s been good’ to Galesburg pair wed 75 years

By: By Tom Dermody

GALESBURG — The secret to a marriage that’s lasted 75 years?

“The Lord’s been good to us,” said Lucille Thielbert, 91, who with husband Ralph, 93, earlier this month renewed the vows they had originally exchanged on May 8, 1935.

While their marriage took place at St. Patrick’s Parish here, the Thielberts’ anniversary vows were spoken during a Saturday evening Mass at Corpus Christi Church as family members looked on and the assembly cheered.

“It was really super nice,” said Lucille of the celebration.

Their five children didn’t have to travel far — all have made Galesburg their home as well.

They include, in order of birth, sons Donald and David, daughters Becky Crumm and Diana Long, and youngest son Daniel.

Lucille Filich met Ralph Thielbert while in high school. Ralph was a basketball star at all-boys Corpus Christi High School, while Lucille attended all-girls St. Joseph’s Academy. They were married in their late teens.

Asked how faith has been a part of their marriage, Lucille said “It’s the best part.” While the Lord has been good to the Thielberts, the couple has returned that love.

Both Lucille and Ralph are lay Carmelites, and still talk fondly of the many trips they’ve made to the province headquarters in Darien. Lay Carmelites promise to live in the spirit of the Carmelite Order and seek to live in the presence of God 24 hours a day.

Lucille has a devotion to the Blessed Mother and says her favorite prayer is the Memorare. On the walls of the couples’ home are images of the Blessed Mother and the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

Ralph, meanwhile, was not Catholic at the time of their wedding but joined the church later. He coached basketball at Corpus Christi High School for four years and then for three decades coached football, basketball, or baseball at St. Joseph’s Academy, which by that time was an elementary school. Lucille would frequently make food for the teams.

Through their 75-year marriage they have been members of all three Galesburg parishes, including most recently at Corpus Christi.

Daughter Becky Crumm, who is also lay Carmelite along with her daughter at her mother’s invitation, said she remembers her parents had a tradition of staffing a booth at the parish’s annual ice cream social.
There was much laughter as children tried to toss a bean bag through the mouth of a giant clown face.

She recalled her mom as being “always there.”

“We could always depend on her to work through problems or answer
questions,” said Becky. “She taught us all kinds of stuff.”

Her father, meanwhile, travelled with railroad jobs. But in his later years, he has become a caregiver for youngest son Daniel, a former Marine who has been ill for several years and now resides in Marigold Healthcare Center, as well as Lucille, who underwent heart surgery in 2001.

“He waits on her hand and foot,” said Becky of her dad. “It’s amazing to watch what he’s doing. He’s a very determined person.” Their children describe their parents as caring, loving, dedicated, hardworking,and trustworthy.

Father Bill Miller, IC, pastor of Corpus Christi and St. Patrick’s parishes, presided at their renewal of vows. He called the Thielberts “a very faithful” couple and called the longevity of their marriage “amazing.”

“There was quite a gathering around them after Mass to offer congratulations,” said Father Miller.

“It’s been a good life,” Lucille told The Catholic Post this week. And it continues to be. On the occasion of their anniversary she told the local newspaper a second secret for a lasting marriage.

“Forget the past and live for the future,” she said. “The future is what we look forward to.”

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