WWII Navy veteran, wife celebrate 80 years of marriage
The Sentinel, Carlisle, Pa.
CARLISLE, Pa. — On a Wednesday morning, just four days shy of their 80th wedding anniversary, Bill and Fay Mccoy sat side by side at their home in Cumberland Crossings Retirement home in Carlisle.
He, silent and steadfast in a golfer’s hat, and she, beaming in a red sweater, don’t have much to say after all their time spent together.
“It just comes naturally,” Fay said. “Nothing exciting.”
Bill remained quiet as Fay’s infectious laugh fills the room.
“I can’t say that I’m sorry, because its been an experience,” she said.
On March 4, 1933, 19-year-old Bill and 18-year-old Fay ran off to Frederick, Md., where, following less than a year of dating, the teenage couple tied the knot.
“My sister’s boyfriend was his cousin” Fay said. “So we double-dated, and it went on from there.”
The couple’s caregiver, Mary, leaned in toward Bill and asked him if it was love at first sight.
The 99-year-old retired contractor broke into a smile for the first time all morning.
The couple’s son, Bill Mccoy, said his parents’ mutual admiration for antique cars and traveling kept their union strong throughout decades of hardship.
“We didn’t go on a lot of family vacations, but as they got older, they did a lot of traveling,” the younger Mccoy said. “My dad was a member of the antique automobile club and they drove all over in their cars — Georgia, Canada — they did that a lot.”
The couple married during the throes of the Great Depression, and Mccoy’s son said his father worked three jobs at once to bring home $17 a week. “He delivered coal at night, too” Bill Mccoy said.
The couple’s oldest daughter, Joan Posey, recalled stories of her parents’ early years together.
“When they were first married, they lived with my aunt in an upstairs apartment,” she said. “They struggled money-wise. It was the Depression.”
A few years later, Bill joined a construction battalion in the Navy during World War II. He joined more than 325,000 other Seabees whose units built airstrips, bridges, roads, gasoline storage tanks, hospitals and housing among other things.
“I thought he was wonderful,” Fay said. “He sent me home pictures in his outfit and it didn’t even look like him.”
Bill, for his part, is humble about his military stint, saying he did “nothing” during the war.
The Mccoy’s son said that after returning home, Bill Mccoy opened up a contracting business with his three brothers and named it Mccoy Bros.
“They were successful,” he said. “It was a good business for them.”
Seven years later, Bill Maccoy discovered the Antique Automobile Club of America. He began buying antique cars in his down-time and restoring them — a hobby, Posey says, her mother fully supported.
One evening, he brought home a 1910 Hupmobile — in pieces.
“He brought that home in boxes, it was all apart and everything,” Posey said. “He restored that little car. It was beautiful. It was just something else. He restored almost every antique car that he bought.”
Posey and McCoy said their father’s enthusiasm for antique car restoration swelled so over the years, that in 1962, he bought property on the side of a mountain off Sandbank Road in Mount Holly Springs and created a private antique car museum.
“They had a picnic area and had different church groups and clubs would come up,” Posey said. “He even had steam train and a carousel.”
Posey said her mother supported Bill’s hobby and never missed an opportunity to entertain visitors at their property.
“It was a lot of work,” she said. “But mother was supportive.”
Bill Mccoy said his father, often swamped with work, eventually was able to carve out sometime for the family’s first vacation — a trip to a car show in Cape May, N.J.
“We took the Model T Ford along,” Mccoy said.
After McCoy retired in 1978, the couple traveled across the country from car show to car show and continued hosting church groups at their Mount Holly Springs home.
Then, in 1993, the couple sold off the estate and the majority of Bill’s 50 antique cars.
“It just got to be too much for him to manage. Right now he still has about 10,” the younger Mccoy said. “He had about 15 left when they sold the house.”
Now, the couple spends their days together at Cumberland Crossings. Fay, now 98, jokes about the success of their marriage and how the twosome managed to stay together for so long.
“That’s what I’ve wondered,” she said. “Somebody older than me is going to have to explain that.”
“It wasn’t easy,” Bill said. “It wasn’t so bad. (After 80 years) It’s no different.”