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70 years of love for Surrey couple ‘blessed’ with many happy days together

Anniversary party for Leo and Corrie van den Boogaard, Dutch immigrants who raised 7 kids in Canada
Corrie and Leo van den Boogaard with a 70th wedding anniversary cake at their retirement home in South Surrey on Jan. 28, 2024. (Contributed photo)

Seven decades into marriage, Leo and Corrie van den Boogaard are still in love and living together in South Surrey.

Just last year they moved from a family home they built 54 years ago to an apartment in an assisted-living residence at Morgan Heights, where a small party was held for their 70th wedding anniversary Jan. 28.

Leo will turn 99 in April, Corrie is 92, and both remain spry, talkative and willing to tell the story of their lives spent together.

They met at a dance in Holland and in 1954 immigrated to the Greater Vancouver area, where they raised seven children and have enjoyed 21 grandchildren and 16 great-grandchildren.

Leo ran his own masonry company while Corrie managed the household all those years, and did a lot of sewing.

So, what has kept their marriage strong over the years?

“I don’t know, we were just lucky,” Corrie said with a laugh.

“We had a lot of happy years.”

Being raised in “a strong religious, Catholic family” helped, Leo said.

“I guess this love for each other is give-and-take, you know,” he added. “We have been blessed. I can’t think of any really serious incidents in our marriage that would (put) the marriage in danger of not succeeding. Of course we made lots of mistakes, there are a lot of things I wish I could have done better. But I think so far, we’re here, and that’s it.”


Corrie and Leo van den Boogaard in a photo from years ago. In 1954 the couple immigrated from Holland to the Greater Vancouver area. (Contributed photo)

They bought their first house in Richmond for $10,500, and by the early 1980s had saved enough money to afford a vacation property and home they built on Galiano Island, along with a boat for the family to enjoy.

“We had a lot of fun there,” Leo said with a smile.

Communication is key to the success of such a long marriage, Corrie said.

“You have to be true to each other, trust each other, believe each other, you know what I mean. You grow together.”


Leo and Corrie van den Boogaard on their wedding day in 1954. (Contributed photo)

Leo was quick with kind words about his wife of seven decades.

“You know, Corrie had an unbelievable ability to manage things in the house,” he said. “Because we are from (the Netherlands), and a lot of times we had a lot of visitors come over, and it was an unbelievable strain on Corrie but somehow she managed. I had my own business and was busy, but for some reason she was able to do it, and I don’t know how she did it.”

North Surrey resident Susan Pattee is second-youngest among the happy couple’s seven kids.

“We prepared nice cards for their (anniversary) dinner in the residence, so that they can celebrate with the 45 other residents at dinner time,” Pattee said prior to the big day.

“We had the cards made up with a wedding photo and a current photo with a caption in the middle, and my sister is attaching a little bag of chocolates to the cards for each resident. We got helium balloons for behind their table in the dining hall and a small table arrangement for their table, to make it special for them.

“After the family celebration in the afternoon, they are having their dinner and celebrating with their friends in the home, and (we) children will be coming back to my place to celebrate and have dinner together as well.”

Tom Zillich

About the Author: Tom Zillich

I cover entertainment, sports and news stories for the Surrey Now-Leader, where I've worked for more than half of my 30-plus years in the newspaper business.
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