MUNCY - It was a chance meeting meant to be when Babette (Babs) Lane and William (Bill) Flynn met up with one another at a military Florida naval base in 1975. He was an aircraft carrier from New Jersey and she was from Williamsport and worked as a yeoman in the military personnel office.
Both had enlisted in the Navy after graduating from their high schools. Babs said she wanted to join the service because her father was in the Army and she wanted to follow his footsteps. That summer she came back to Lycoming County to go on a three week vacation with her parents to Hawaii. When she returned to the military base where she lived, her roommates invited her to go with them to the "enlistment club" on the base in Mayport, Florida. Reluctant to go at first, it was there that Babs met Bill Flynn through a mutual friend and they started dating.
We were so compatible according to Bill who said he grew up in Linden, New Jersey near Staten Island. "I didn't want to go back to city life," he said after he proposed to Babs a few months later. They spent three years together at the naval base and came back to live in Williamsport.
BARB BARRETT/The Luminary
Babette and William Flynn celebrated their 41st wedding anniversary on Feb. 14, 2017. They attended the Valentine's Day party at the Meck Senior Center in Muncy Township for the day and made some special lollypop valentines for their two grandchildren.
They were married February 14, 1976, the year of the bi-centennial, at Faith Lutheran Church on Lycoming Creek Road. "It was a Valentine's massacre," Bill related. His family was strict Irish Catholic and hers was Lutheran. Back in the day, the two religions seldom mixed and he said his father who was just like "Archie Bunker" at first objected to the union.
"My family sat on one side, hers on the other," he said. The wedding still turned out beautiful with red carnations and white roses. Babs said Bill wanted to get married on Valentine's Day.
Their first child was born on Christmas Eve that same year, and they named her Noel Angel. "She was born in Jacksonville," said Babs who stayed with the Navy until January 1978. Meanwhile, Bill finished his enlistment in 1975 so he became a "stay-at-home dad."
"The experience was different," Bill replied as it was unusual in the 70s to switch gender roles. "We didn't want anyone unfamiliar to raise a newborn baby," he added. So he joined the Active Reserves of which he was a member for twenty years.
In January of 1978 they came to Lycoming County to live. Their first home was in Mill Hall where Bill was employed at Piper Aircraft before moving to Loyalsock Township where they still reside.
Their second child, a son, also named William, was born in April of 1979. "He was born in her old bedroom," Bill said.
It was one of their many memorable moments that kept the couple glued together for so many years. Their son was a surprise delivery and the Old Township Fire company had to come to their rescue to her parent's home in Old Lycoming Township. "The baby's head was already crowned," said Babs. "It was too late to go to the hospital." Three policemen also showed up according to Bill, because the ambulance was called. Bill was not home at the time and two state police officers were called to escort him on Route 220 to get him there faster. That Sunday there was a big headline in the Grit newspaper that said "BABY BOY PREFERS AUDIENCE."
As the years passed, the couple became very involved together with their two children, attending many of their school activities. Babs was working at the Muncy Prison as a corrections officer and Bill was employed for many years at Bailey Electronics on Reach Road.
Both are retired now and enjoy their time together even more. They attend community events together and like to come to the Meck Senior Center in Muncy Township. "We like to do crafts together," said Babs. Bill does stained glass as a hobby at home and designs his own banners. He also works at the movie theater at the Lycoming Mall on Friday nights.
When asked what kept them together all these years, Babs said, " He has such a big heart! He loves animals and you don't see that in a lot of guys." She said they always had a dog until 2010 when they lost a very special pet. However, they adopted a stray cat three years ago from the SPCA.
Bill said, "We have the same interests."
"We have a special bond together," Babs concluded with a loving smile.