By Michelle Strubeck for Seward City News-
There are many milestones in life: marriage, births, anniversaries, graduations and buying your first home just to name a few. How you celebrate those milestones is up to you. Some people choose to have a celebration with friends and family, some people mark the significant occasion by going on a vacation, while others are taken by surprise with a surprise! Mr. and Mrs. Seward wanted their Seward vacation to mark their special occasion, little did they know that other Sewards at home in Canada and the town of Seward here in Alaska had more in store for them.
Wayne and Sheila Seward of Alberta, Canada chose to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary by going on a cruise from Vancouver, B.C. to Seward and back on Royal Caribbean’s “Radiance of the Seas.” They had visited Seward on previous vacations. They love the town, and they love that the name of our town is the same as their last name. Little did they know their children at home were working behind the scenes to surprise their parents upon their arrival in Seward.
In celebration of her parents’ 50th anniversary, and in order to pull off this surprise, Keri Lynn contacted Seward City News asking if we would be interested in meeting her parents’ ship to photograph them during their visit. Seward City News staff said we would be happy to cover the story, and also directed Keri Lynn to Mayor Jean Bardarson’s office for additional assistance.
An elaborate string of emails between Mayor Bardarson’s office, city clerk Johanna Kinney, Seward Port Manager Christy Terry, Keri Lynn’s cousin, Robert Hines who is the HR Manager with Royal Caribbean, and the “Radiance of the Seas” Hotel Director, Robert Taggart led to a plan to surprise them with substantial fanfare in Seward. Wayne and Sheila received a message directing them to the Chamber of Commerce table in the cruise ship terminal, but they were not told why.
When Wayne and Sheila arrived at the Chamber of Commerce table, they were surprised by Mayor Jean Bardarson, City Clerk Johanna Kinney, Executive Director of the Seward Chamber of Commerce Cindy Clock and myself. They were caught off guard to say the least. Mayor Jean Bardarson presented Mr. and Mrs. Seward with a signed certificate, a Seward City flag and a bag of Seward related items. When asked about their thoughts regarding the surprise Wayne and Sheila said it was breathtaking, delightful, something typical of Keri Lynn to do and very kind of everyone involved to organize something like this.
When asked about their thoughts on 50 years of marriage, Wayne replied, “It made me go bald!” Sheila said it is worth all of the work. The good and the bad always balance out. Sheila went on to say that they feel very blessed to be together for 50 years since many marriages don’t last that long anymore. She also added to never give up. Sheila did mention that she met another Sheila Seward at one time, to which Wayne replied, “Its a good thing I met this Sheila!”
Not only was this cruise a celebration of 50 years of marriage, but Sheila was recently declared cancer free.
In November 2016 Sheila had a routine mammogram followed by a biopsy in early December which revealed she had breast cancer. After undergoing treatment, Sheila was declared cancer free in May. During the cancer treatment Wayne and Sheila were contemplating going on a cruise for their anniversary, but they weren’t sure about making the journey due to Sheila’s diagnosis. Sheila kept a positive attitude, she said she has this beat, and they booked the cruise.
Wayne was born Gerald Wayne Seward March 1, 1945 and he has been called Wayne ever since. There was no doctor in Vanguard, Saskatchewan, where his family lived and farmed at the time, so his parents moved to Regina, Saskatchewan and lived there the winter he was born. Wayne has six siblings. Wayne attended Vanguard school for the 1st through 10th grade, then he went to Caronport Bible institute and boarding high school for 11th and 12th grade. To get enough money to go to Caronport, Wayne sold his steer and another cow that he THOUGHT was his! He was Valedictorian for his graduating class and he was given a magazine subscription to Reader’s Digest and a $100 scholarship. After high school, Wayne went to Miller Memorial Bible Institute (MMBI) in Pambrun, Saskatchewan.
Sheila was born September 17, 1945 in Meadowlake, Saskatchewan. She moved many times throughout Saskatchewan with her pastor father, mother and six siblings to places such as Dalmeny and Eastend before moving to Edmonton, Alberta. Sheila graduated from high school at Bonnie Doon Composite in Edmonton. She then went on to MMBI for Bible School.
Everyone has a love story as to how they met. Here is how Wayne and Sheila met in Wayne’s words, as told by their daughter Keri Lynn: The first day at MMBI we first year students met in the chapel. There must have been at least fifty of us in the room. There were half a dozen or so of us guys sitting on a pew in the middle section and the other half of the pew was full of girls. I asked a friend if he thought we should introduce ourselves and he thought we should. We turned to the girls and said “hi.” They said “hi” and that one girl sure did catch my eye. Now I didn’t believe in love at first sight, so I quickly took another peek. Wow!! We told them who we were and the pretty girl said she was Sheila Nish. I made some silly comment about a fish or maybe it was a dish-in any case I kept sneaking a peek or two over in her direction. I kind of kept an eye out for her after that, but it was quite some time before I got up the nerve to actually talk to her. Turned out that she was easy to talk to and very pleasant.
Wayne and Sheila were engaged two days after graduation from MMBI in 1966 and they were married on June 3, 1967 at Belgravia Evangelical Free Church in Edmonton, AB. Wayne’s Uncle Leonard Graham was the minister who married them.
Wayne was a Pastor, electrician and business owner (Seward Systems, LTD and KFC) before retiring as an electrical inspector five years ago. He enjoys restoring antique cars as a hobby. His restoration of a 1926 Star 4 Coupster was featured in Reader’s Digest in 2008.
Sheila has her Grade 10 Piano (the second highest academic credential awarded by The Royal Conservatory of Music), has been a piano teacher for more than fifty years. She is also the past President of the Alberta Piano Teacher’s Association. She went back to University in her mid-forties and obtained her Bachelor of Arts in Music degree from the University of Alberta’s Augustana campus in Camrose, Alberta in 1995, just before her 50th birthday. Sheila is also an avid quilter and is a member of the Vermilion Quilt Guild.
Wayne and Sheila have lived in many places, moving over forty times in their married life, among them in Alberta: Marwayne, Wainwright, Edmonton, Slave Lake, Red Deer, Vermilion and Camrose.
Wayne and Sheila have three children: Keri Lynn, Kevin, and Kayla.
Keri Lynn and her husband have three children. They live just outside of Edmonton, AB on 10 acres of land with their horses, dogs and cats.
Kevin and his wife Jaclyn have two children. They live in Kimberley, BC where Kevin in President of LeaseDeal Canada. Jaclyn was a camera assistant for several Hollywood movies until she left the industry to raise her family.
Kayla and her husband, Andrew, have two children. They live in Sundre, Alberta where Andrew is an electrician and Kayla is an Administrative Assistant with Alberta Health Services.
After 50 years of marriage, here is a special message to Mr. and Mrs. Seward from the Seward Family: Thank you Mom and Dad/Grandma and Grandpa for being the foundation for the fabric of our family. Congratulations on your 50th Anniversary! We love you! May there be many, many more Splash Grandpa Days and Birthday Dates with Grandma!
On behalf of Mayor Bardarson, Johanna Kinney, Cindy Clock and Seward City News, we were happy to help you pull off this surprise! Congratulations on 50 years of marriage! May you have many more happy years together.
“Chains do not hold a marriage together. It is threads, hundreds of tiny threads, which sew people together through the years.” -Simone Signoret