By James Hanlon
Leader Staff Writer
Eugene “Geno” and Marlene Mallia were married at the Leonard Methodist Church 65 years ago, on March 19, 1955. Besides a three-month stint in Detroit, they’ve lived their entire marriage in Leonard.
They met on a blind date in 1954 when Marlene was in nursing school at St. Joe’s Hospital in Pontiac. One weeknight, after her bath she was about to go to bed, when her friend came over and said, “Marlene, put your clothes on you have to go out with me.”
They weren’t allowed to go out unless they went two-by-two. Marlene went with her friend, reluctantly. Her hair was in pin curlers, so she tied a scarf around her head and went out with no makeup.Over the coming months, Geno charmed her with flowers. “I had a buddy that owned a flower shop in Detroit,” he recalled. “Come the weekend, he’d have all these leftover flowers and I’d send them to her and to the house mother (who was a nun) and to the telephone operator there.”
“We worked hard,” Marlene remembers of their 65 years. “We worked different shifts a lot of the time, for babysitting.”
They have two children, four grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.
Geno’s marriage advice is to “keep your mouth shut.”
“There’s a lot of give and take goes on with a marriage,” Marlene says. “I think today it’s too easy for young people to just get up this morning and say, I don’t like this, I’m going to get a divorce, I’m going to leave you. They do and they can. . . I think that young people should get married with the idea that it’s going to be forever.”