Greenville couple celebrates over 70 years of married life

Joseph and Virginia Martuscello, holding a picture of their family, will celebrate their 72nd anniversary this year. (Miscellany/Terry Cregar)

Joseph and Virginia Martuscello, holding a picture of their family, will celebrate their 72nd anniversary this year. (Miscellany/Terry Cregar)GREENVILLE—In 1938, commercial television was beginning to make its way across the Atlantic from Europe, Adolph Hitler invaded Austria, a postage stamp cost 3 cents, and two young people from New York were married.

Now, 72 years later, the couple is about to celebrate more than seven decades of love.

At a time when a pair’s commitment to each other seems more fleeting than ever, the story of Joseph and Virginia Martuscello’s life together is refreshingly reassuring.

The two met nearly 73 years ago on the day before Thanksgiving at a basketball game in Amsterdam, N.Y. Joseph was 23 and working for a Chevrolet dealership. Virginia was 19. She was fresh out of high school and studying to become a nurse at St. Mary’s school in Amsterdam.

The basketball game ended and Joseph offered to give Virginia and her roommates a ride back to the school.

“That’s how it got started and we just followed through after that,” Joseph said.

Nine months later, the couple married in Virginia’s hometown of Northville, N.Y., at St. Francis of Assisi Church.

Joseph took out a $70 loan from his life insurance policy to pay rent on the newlyweds’ first home.

“I couldn’t afford a honeymoon,” he said.

A couple of years later their oldest daughter Judi was born. She was the first of four children in the Martuscello family — three daughters and one son.

The family remained in Northville for 13 years before moving to Miami, Fla., to be closer to relatives.

Joseph went to work delivering propane gas, and Virginia stayed home with the children.

“She was a good mom,” recalled Joanne, their second-oldest daughter. She said Virginia had breakfast ready every morning and sack lunches packed for school.

The Martuscello’s stayed in Florida until 1993, when the couple moved to Greer. They attended St. Mary Magdalene Church in Simpsonville for several years before moving to St. Anthony of Padua Church in Greenville two years ago.

Three of the four children live in the Greenville area — Judi lives near Mobile, Ala. The whole family remains active in the church. The Martuscellos also have eight grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren.

Virginia suffered two strokes in recent years, which limits her speech and mobility, their son Bob said, but “every Sunday, health and the weather permitting,” she attends Mass with her family.

“Their faith is what has kept them together,” Bob said. “They both have such strong faith that they’ve been able to pass it on to their children. They unceasingly made the Catholic Church a part of our family life.”

The family returned to New York for a reunion and celebration of the couple’s 71st anniversary last year. The children will get together later this month to plan for number 72.