For Steve Heddy, it was love at first sight – the first time he saw his future wife, Rosanne Barton, way back in junior high school. And Rosanne’s reaction was the same. “The second I saw him, I knew!” she exclaims. “It really was love at first sight.” The couple, who is well-known in the area for their volunteerism and fundraising activities, were born just two weeks apart at the same hospital, the former St. Joseph, and grew up in the same Flint neighborhood. They dated all throughout high school and went to all of the school dances together. They were inseparable. “We were always together,” Steve says.
It was no surprise to many of their friends and family that Steve and Rosanne married right out of high school. The year was 1966 and popular songs on the radio were “Chapel of Love” by The Dixie Cups and “I Got You Babe” by Sonny and Cher. It wasn’t a big wedding, Rosanne recalls. “We decided we wanted to do it, and it wasn’t a lavish affair.” It was a bitter cold, winter day and she wanted to get her hair done, but the pipes had frozen and the water was very cold. “I didn’t care, ‘just do it!’” Rosanne told the hairdresser. The couple had a simple ceremony in the family room of the Barton home. After the nuptials, they feasted on Kentucky Fried Chicken and toasted
with glasses of pink champagne. Steve overheard one of the wedding guests say, “I don’t give it six months.” The Heddys have definitely proven that naysayer wrong.
The honeymoon was as simple as the ceremony. The newlyweds spent the weekend at the Hawaiian Gardens Resort in Holly, which is no longer in operation, but was once a beautiful restaurant and resort that captured the flavor of Hawaii and other Pacific islands. They later spent a week-long honeymoon on Mackinac Island.
The Heddys’ first home was an apartment on Clio Road right after they married, which they loved. They have one child, Christie, and spent her growing-up years in a home in the Kearsley area, where they lived until she went off to college. They now live in a beautiful home on Woodlawn Park Drive which has historical significance, and is the place where they host many charitable events. When purchasing the home back in 1996, a memory came back to Steve. He said that when he and Rosanne were teenagers, they would spend time at each other’s homes, which were within walking distance. One evening, Steve’s dad told him to walk Rosanne home, and they took a shortcut through the park where they sat for a bit under a tree. Steve could see the big house on Woodlawn Park Drive and marveled at its beauty. “Someday I am going to buy you that house,” he told his sweetheart. He realized that he had kept the promise he made so many years ago.
In 1982, Steve and Rosanne renewed their wedding vows on New Year’s Eve in Las Vegas with a group of 12 people. Rosanne laughs as she talks about the experience of sitting in a room with other people waiting to wed or renew vows – some decked out in full wedding apparel and some wearing t-shirts and shorts. “We saw everything!” she laughs. “The people-watching was great.”
On December 3 this year, the Heddys will celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary. How will they celebrate? “We are celebrating every day!” exclaims Rosanne. They started the year with a trip to California to visit their daughter and three grandchildren, and then went to New Orleans, which they refer to as their “adopted” city. They visit New Orleans at least once a year, and Steve has spent much time there volunteering with Habitat for Humanity since Hurricane Katrina devastated the city.
When asked to share their secret for a happy marriage, Steve says, “Don’t fight over the little things; it’s not worth it.” Rosanne credits their longevity to the fact that they share similar interests. “We like the same cities, the same music, the same artists,” she says. And what they enjoy most is volunteering and overseeing fundraising efforts. “We love volunteering together,” Rosanne says, “and we have met some of our closest friends through our volunteer efforts.” Steve describes volunteering as “invigorating, sometimes joyous and sometimes scary.” The couple co-chaired the re-dedication gala for the courthouse in Downtown Flint, and have both volunteered for the Crim Festival of Races for 30 years. “It brings us closer together,” says Rosanne. They’ve chaired Whaley’s “World’s Greatest Office Party,” the Flint Institute of Music’s Annual Auction and the Hurley Benefit Ball, to name just a few. “We’ve also hosted an annual Holiday Open House at our home for the last 18 years,” says Rosanne, “which has raised more than $270,000 for the kids of our community.”
Advice for couples planning to marry? “Make sure you have similar interests and enjoy doing the same things together,” advises
Rosanne. Steve nods in agreement. With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, she shares that they don’t really have special plans for the occasion. “We celebrate every day!”