Reaching your 70th wedding anniversary is rare. Reaching your 70th wedding anniversary the same week you and your spouse celebrate your 90th birthdays is practically unheard of.
But two residents of The Village at Penn State celebrated both their seventh decade of marriage and ninth decades of life Sunday to a packed reception. Barnes and Emily McCormick were honored by family, friends and fellow residents in a standing-room-only affair in the community’s Cub Lounge.
“It feels wonderful to have everyone come out to the party,” Barney McCormick said as he was greeted by partygoers. “I feel warmed.”
The couple officially celebrates their 70th anniversary Monday. McCormick said he and his wife planned their wedding around their birthdays, as Barney’s birthday is July 15, and Emily’s is July 17.
Several Penn State faculty members mingled among the partygoers, as many worked closely with McCormick during his time as head of the Department of Aerospace Engineering.
McCormick made many contributions to the field of aerospace engineering during his time at Penn State, said his daughter Cynthia Miceli, who helped organize the event. In fact, his work in 1965 in the field of wake turbulence helped set the Federal Aviation Administration-coded separation distances between incoming and outgoing aircraft and is used by airports worldwide.
A historic marker noting McCormick’s work on wake turbulence can be found adjacent to the Hammond Building on campus. McCormick also wrote several books, including a textbook that is used by aerospace students to this day.
Former department head Dennis McLaughlin said it was fantastic to see the turnout for McCormick and his wife, saying he is the “all-time contributor to education in the department.” He continued, saying he set a standard in the department through his toughness, and others continue to look up to him.
“If you go anywhere aerospace-related in the country and mention Penn State, the first thing a lot of people will say is, ‘How’s Barney?’ ” current department head George Lesieutre said.
While Barney was teaching young adults at Penn State, Emily shaped the minds of first-graders for more than 30 years. After receiving her education at Penn State, like Barney, she first taught at Easterly Park elementary, before moving on to the now-closed College Heights elementary before settling at Radio Park elementary.
She also took some credit for Barney’s success, saying she was the one who typed up all of his doctorate papers.
“It’s a wonder we’re together,” she said, “because he would yell that I wasn’t leaving enough space for his references.”
She takes pride in initiating the “morning letter” concept, saying every morning, she would write a brief letter talking about what was happening that day. She would then lead the class in reading through the letter.
The idea has grown in popularity in schools since then, she said. She even saw the concept in use while traveling through Germany.
Barney credited their long-lasting marriage to tolerance, perseverance and, of course, love. Emily said part of a good marriage is encouragement, because the two are working together.
While Miceli is the McCormick’s only child, they also celebrated with their five grandchildren and five great-grandchildren. Granddaughter Rebecca Benfield, of Philadelphia, said it was nice to see such an accomplished group of faculty members and members of the business community come out in celebration of her grandparents.
Grandson Tommy Miceli, of New York, said when he was a Penn State student, Barney would take him out for breakfast at The Corner Room, where he knew everyone by name.
“We would talk. He took me out of my element,” Miceli said. “As a student, you get wrapped up in your own world, but it was a good break from that.”