When Howard and Verel Towell of Harper eloped 78 years ago, she was just 17.


Asked by the clerk if she was a legal 18, Verel considered and asserted that yes, she was.


It wasn’t really a fib, she recently told Nancy McNitt at Brookdale Senior Living in Ontario – she was just counting from a different starting point, the day of birth rather than her 1st birthday.


The couple’s elopement marked the beginning of a long and loving relationship that will be celebrated with a renewal of vows on April 1 at Brookdale. The festivities start at 7 p.m.


McNitt, the resident program coordinator at Brookdale, said she learned of the Towells’ story when she featured them for Valentine’s Day in the center’s newsletter. She thought it would be nice to give the couple the dream wedding they never had.


She checked with the couple’s daughter, Sharon Cousineau, who agreed it would be fun.


The festivities will include a ceremony by a local pastor, finger food and wedding cake. The couple’s great-grandchildren will sing and participate as flower and ring bearers, and well-wishers will toast with sparkling cider.


There will be a display of the attire the couple wore when they were wed – a replica of Verel’s dress and Howard’s coveralls – plus a photo of them from the day.


“They look like they’re about 12 and 14,” McNitt said.


Friends are welcome to attend and wish the couple well.