50 years of love: Surprise party where it all began

Fifty years of marriage is a celebration for many, and for Madison-area couple Larry and Sue Dewane, they thought about celebrating their own anniversary by going out to dinner.

But, the couple’s daughters, Erica Sagui, Alisa Robertson and Emily Kornell, had different plans for Larry and Sue. They thought their parents’ celebration should involve the roots of the couple’s relationship.

The three sisters said their parents met at the Barrymore Theatre in 1966.

“My dad offered my mom a ride home,” Robertson said. “He had heard there was another cute popcorn girl [working at the theater].”

Sue worked as a popcorn girl, and Larry worked as an usher. He also fixed the theater’s twinkling lights, which are still popular to this day.

“We still have the stars in the ceiling,” Steve Sperling said, the general manager of the Barrymore Theatre. “The theater did really well over the years.”

Robertson said her parents have a special relationship. She said no matter what, they always come back to each other.

“They are a true team,” Robertson said.

After Larry gave Sue a ride home in 1966, the now-married couple soon started dating. A couple years later they were engaged and never planned on saying goodbye.

In 1969, though, Larry was deployed to Germany after he had enlisted in the Vietnam war. The couple didn’t expect to see each other for two years.

“My mom got too restless and wasn’t able to imagine the next two years living without her husband,” Robertson said. “She decided to jump on a military cargo plane, somehow, at the time with chickens, and was able to go over to Germany to meet my father.”

After six weeks of not being able to be away from Larry, Sue sent a telegram to inform him of her travels, but it arrived late, and she waited for hours in the German airport. It was her first time out of the country and being on a plane, but nothing would stop her from being united with her husband.

Larry eventually made it to the airport, where the couple reconnected and from that moment, never parted again.

Now 50 years later, Larry and Sue’s daughters are helping them celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary with a surprise party. They couldn’t think of a better place than where the couple met: the Barrymore Theatre.

“They will be absolutely blown away,” Robertson said. “They love this building. They love everything behind it. And seeing all their friends and family here to celebrate them is going to be quite emotional.”

Sperling said the theater rarely allows private events. The theater is actually in the process of raising funds for renovation, but Sperling said he was willing to make a compromise. Although he didn’t know the couple in the 1960s, he knew the theater held a special place in their hearts.

Robertson tracked her parents on her phone, and a couple minutes before the two would drive by the theater, everyone headed outside.

The marquee read “Happy 50th anniversary Larry & Sue,” and “Feel the love.” About 100 people stood outside to surprise Larry and Sue when they drove by.

When the couple arrived, they got out of their car with teary smiles.

“I’m so happy,” Sue said. “I’m shocked. I’m just overwhelmed.”

They both admitted to having no idea the surprise party had been arranged, but were very happy with the results.

Even though Larry didn’t know about the surprise party, he still wrote his wife a poem about the love he feels for her.

50 years of love: Surprise party where it all began 50 years of love: Surprise party where it all began 50 years of love: Surprise party where it all began 50 years of love: Surprise party where it all began

“How can we be so lucky?” Sue said. “So blessed.”

The couple sees no end in sight for their relationship.

“Another 50 [years],” Larry said. “I’m sure.”

Get your weather forecast from people who actually live in your community. We update with short, easy-to-use video forecasts you can watch on your phone every day. Download the iOS or Android app here.