Thanks to their granddaughter, Belinda Bannister, Richard and Mary Arambula’s 70th wedding anniversary in Bakersfield was celebrated by roughly 150 celebrities, presidents and even the Pope.
Bannister, who lives in Germany, decided to contact the star-studded group after her grandmother received a birthday greeting from the White House in 2012. Banister told the Bakersfield Californian, “Then we thought, “Who else?” It just went from there.”
In March 2014, Bannister created a Facebook page and asked for messages to celebrate her grandparents’ anniversary; she also wrote missives to celebrities and politicians. Mary Arambula said, “This girl here is something else. She said she was going to throw us a party. It turned out to be a big party.”
All the living presidents of the United States, the Pope, and celebrities sent congratulations. The celebrity list started with Sophia Loren and Judi Dench, then continued with John Travolta, Olivia Newton-John, Susan Sarandon, George Clooney, William H. Macy, Rod Stewart, James Earl Jones, Judge Judy, and Dakota Fanning. Regis Philbin wrote, “I’m impressed with what you’ve done with your marriage all these years,” actor Tommy Chong quipped, “Congratulations on being together seventy years and not killing each other.” Clooney wrote, “May I say happy 70th anniversary. That is an extraordinary milestone for which you should feel most proud.” He signed with a mini-lecture, writing, “Love each other. Your friend, George Clooney.”
The Arambulas received notes from their favorite sports teams: the Dallas Cowboys, the Los Angeles Lakers and the Los Angeles Dodgers; local police and charities also sent their congratulations.
Bannister told 23ABC, “We thought we would maybe get 10 responses. We thought we would have a lot of agents tell us they don’t do that. We had some of those, but we never dreamed of getting 150 responses, it’s insanity.” She said of her grandparents, ‘These people are amazing. They are just fabulous and I love them and I want everyone to know about it so they can know how amazing they are.”
Pope Francis sent an Apostolic blessing; Richard Arambula commented, “That was real meaningful to me.”
The Arambulas emigrated to Bakersfield from Texas in the early 1940s; they were 16 and 17 when they wed in 1944. Richard told Kerngoldenempire.com, “It wasn’t always sweet, rolling smooth.” Mary added, “There was times that I wanted to get the gun, get out of my house.” The couple has four children, 13 grandchildren, 18 great-grandchildren and eight great-great-grandchildren.