Image credit: Courtesy Clark Family
By Salma Touma, ABC News
Bob Clark says that sharing everything is the secret to his
successful marriage with wife Norma Clark. But after 48 years of
marriage, the Redlands, Calif., couple was surprised to discover that
their marriage was never legal.
After celebrating their 48th wedding anniversary in August, they had
no idea of the surprising discovery they were about to make. It happened
in November, while Bob was reading the Wall Street Journal.
"He wanted to make sure we had all the right paperwork in order, in
case one of us passed away," said Norma, who began the search for their
The Clarks met at San Jose State College and started dating soon
after. They later took their vows at a church south of San Francisco
back in 1956, and say the ceremony was perfect. But after 48 years, they
learned there was no marriage certificate and barely any legal proof
that they have been legally married for nearly five decades.
They wrote to the San Mateo county hall of records, which had no record of their license.
Luckily the church where they had married still had a record of the
ceremony and some family members as well as friends who attended the
wedding were visiting for Thanksgiving.
"Thank god we still had family and friends who were alive and could serve as witnesses," Bob said.
"We showed them book pictures, but they were more interested in the
witnesses who were my brother junior usher at the time and the maid of
honor," Norma said.
On Nov. 21 the couple finally made their marriage legitimate, and
filed their paperwork to obtain their license at the San Bernardino
County Hall of Records.
"I wanted to duplicate the bouquet she held 48 years ago but couldn't
get the same flowers at this time of the year," Bob said. "So I went
for the white roses, a nice bouquet for my now legal wife Norma."
He finally kissed his bride as their son Alex and about 35 other
guests clapped for the newlyweds. The couple did not take this whole
issue too seriously and found it fun recalling and looking at the old
"This was funny and we had a good time with it," Bob said.
"The legal documents made no difference for us, because the most
important thing is to love each other, communicate and support your
partner," Norma said.