Paul and Frances Bruno will celebrate their 70th wedding anniversary on April 14. Paul and Frances Bruno, members of St. Rita Parish, West Allis, will celebrate their 70th wedding anniversary on April 14. The couple are pictured above in their New Berlin retirement community home in a Catholic Herald photo taken last month and below on their wedding day in 1945. (Catholic Herald photo by Ricardo Torres)

The couple met when they were about 13 or 14 years old. They saw each other at school, and Frances, now 92, knew Paul’s sister. When Paul, 94, went into the Air Force during World War II, he asked if he could write to Frances and she agreed. He returned home often and the couple went out a few times. For the most part, the their long-distance relationship bloomed through the letters and over the phone. Even the proposal and much of the wedding planning was done over the phone.

After they were married, they lived in North Carolina for six months until the war was over and then returned to Milwaukee where their families were. Paul went to engineering school, got his degree, and began working for the city of Milwaukee, while Frances quit work to take care of the home and the children. The Brunos have three children, five grandchildren and six great-grandchildren. 

Frances enjoys baking and cooking for her family as well as playing card games. She makes a lamb cake every year, a tradition she has kept for more than 60 years.

Paul enjoys softball, bowling and golf. Until his open heart surgery two years ago, Paul played on a softball team, two bowling leagues and two golf leagues. He was also active in the St. Joseph Benevolent Society and the Knights of Columbus, as well as serving as an usher at St. Rita Parish, West Allis.

The Brunos enjoy seeing films and plays together. They volunteered with several activities at their church and they still enjoy playing card games together.

The couple will celebrate their anniversary at the Pfister Hotel in Milwaukee, the site of the couple’s wedding reception, as well as their 50th wedding anniversary.

The Pfister holds other memories for the couple as well. Paul worked there as a bus boy and waiter before they were married and he played on its softball team.

For the anniversary party, they will display photos from their wedding day as well as his uniform, her wedding dress, and a few other items. They’re also making Jordan Almonds as a wedding favor, something they did for their wedding reception 70 years ago.

How did you know he was the one? 

Paul: I flirted with you. 

Frances: He pushed me a little bit. He wrote letters every day. Sometimes two letters a day. I felt sorry for him because he was in the service. I was thinking I didn’t want anyone to be alone. He was flirting. I kind of liked him. The uniform made a big difference too.

Why did you ask her out?

Paul: She looked pretty good then. She was what you call sexy.

What was your favorite date together over the years?

Frances: The first date he took me to a movie. He gave me a kiss. He wanted to make sure that next time I’d go with him again.

Paul: The first day. I fell in love with her.

What is the best gift the other person gave you through the years?

Frances: He always gives me a big bouquet of red roses for everything: birthdays, anniversaries, Easter. He never forgot. Now the kids get the roses for me because he doesn’t drive, but he never forgets.

Paul: Her baking. The cheesecake she makes.

What advice do you have for couples planning a marriage or in the early years of marriage?

Frances: Stay close to your family is the biggest thing we ever did. Not in the nosy kind of way where we have to know what everyone’s doing. But we like to know the family and do things with them and make sure they’re in the back of my mind. Keep an eye on them, that kind of thing.

Paul: A little arguing doesn’t hurt. Do things together, as best as you can.

What is your favorite thing about him/her?

Frances: I’ve never been without him my whole life. I just love him. I’ve never loved anyone else. He’s the only one. Forever and ever. He’s very good with people. He treated my family real good.

Paul: It’s hard to think of one thing. She’s an excellent cook. She doesn’t always listen to me, but most of the time she does.

What lessons did you learn from your parents?

Frances: They talked over things. They didn’t just say things and forget about it. They followed through.

Paul: They didn’t argue too much. I guess you could say one thing was my father and mother got along really well. And that was my stepmother. My real mom died young, in childbirth at age 27 when I was 4 years old.

Frances: I didn’t know that wasn’t his real mother when we first met. It took me a long time. She was so good to those kids. So I guess I learned a lot from her, because she was a good person.