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Dearborn Heights couple celebrates 75th wedding anniversary during coronavirus (COVID-19) shutdown

Emil and Lillian Zapalski celebrate 75th anniversary

DEARBORN HEIGHTS, Mich. – A Dearborn Heights couple celebrated their 75th wedding anniversary behind closed doors as the coronavirus (COVID-19) forced them to get creative to share the experience with family members.

You would think they’d have seen it all at this point, but now Emil and Lillian Zapalski 97 and 96, respectively, have been forced to celebrate their milestone anniversary behind closed doors.

In a world that’s currently focused on so much hardship, especially for elderly people, the Zapalskis’ tale is a welcome change of pace.

The world looks a lot different than it did 75 years ago, but on this day in 1945, the couple was married in Detroit after knowing each other since they were neighbors as children.

“He kissed me through the fence,” Lillian said.

They admitted Tuesday’s celebration looked a lot different than the one they had planned.

“We invited the gardener, the beauty operator, the priest,” Lillian said.

They’re as happy as ever and looking forward to setting a new date for their anniversary party. For now, they’re celebrating from afar and through their glass door.

“He’s pressing his nose against the door, back and forth and back and forth,” Lillian said of her grandchild. “It was just beautiful.”

They said getting through this time will take some patience, but after 75 years of marriage, patience is something they’ve both developed.

“We’re patient with each other,” Emil said. “Sometimes it’s very hard. She’s like a sergeant.”

“I never get mad at him,” Lillian said. “We always kiss before we go to bed and never go to bed angry.”


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