Brownsville couple celebrates amazing milestone with 75th wedding anniversary

dfwnewsa | October 21, 2023 | 0 | East Texas News , South Texas News

Only about 1,000 couples in the United States have reached their 75th wedding anniversary, according to some estimates.

Ezequiel Silva Sr. and his wife, Anita, Brownsville natives and lifelong residents, are members of that august group. The couple met in 1947 when Anita was attending Brownsville High School.

“They had met actually at a party on Easter Sunday,” said Zeke Silva Jr., a San Antonio resident and the couple’s first-born. “They had a group of friends that they both knew. She was the academic type. He was the more outgoing personality. Within about a year or so they were pretty regular.”

They were wedded on Oct. 23, 1948, at Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church, the same church where Zeke Sr.’s father tied the knot and where Zeke Jr. would get married many, many years later. The Silvas raised five kids in all, including Hector, Cindy, Patsy and Danny. Eventually came a “boat load” of grandchildren and great-grandchildren —12 and 17, respectively, to be exact, Zeke Jr. said.

“I think in total when you count the spouses and all of that, when that whole gets together there’s like 47 of us,” he said. “It’s a pretty good-sized group.”

Now the kids are throwing a 75th anniversary party for “Memaw” and “Papa Zeke” on Saturday at Cindy’s house in Brownsville. The day before the event, reached by phone while shopping for patio lights at Sam’s Club, Cindy said everything was coming together smoothly, everyone was excited, and that she expected 50 to 60 family members for the big day, which would include mariachis and catered street tacos.

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“It’s a bit casual,” she said. “Something fun but casual. Not a sit-down dinner or anything like that.”

There was a time when her father wouldn’t have missed the opportunity to take a turn at the microphone with the band.

“He used to love to sing,” Cindy said, noting that her father’s first cousin Chelo Silva was a popular frontera singer.

Cindy’s dad’s grandmother had one of the first dance halls in Southmost, a mecca for the younger crowd, and the Silvas could cut quite a rug themselves, even winning a couple of dance competitions, she said.

Zeke Sr. and Anita Silva, center, are shown surrounded by family in this photo taken in 2018. (Courtesy)

Patsy, who came down from Austin to help organize the party, said her father sang the Mexican crooner classic “El Rey” at her wedding and also was “amazing at gritos.” Her mother is the last surviving sibling of her family, Ramirez, which tends to view Anita and her husband as matriarch and patriarch, Patsy said.

Zeke Jr. recalled that “whenever we had family get-togethers and we might have a band or a mariachi playing, he would sing,” describing his dad as a “party animal” back in the day. Zeke Sr. was — and still is — formidable at the card table, according to his son.

“He did not have a formal education but he played every other week with federal district judges, bank presidents,” Zeke Jr. said. “He played poker with (Judge) Reynaldo Garza. He knew all these guys, all these mayors and all the commissioners and all the federal district judges, and they all played poker together.”

As recently as a couple of years ago the Silvas were still taking the long bus ride to Coushatta Casino Resort in Louisiana, where he’d easily spend five or six hours at the blackjack table in one sitting while she played the penny slots.

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For Zeke Sr. and Anita, taking care of family has always been top on the priority list.

“My mom particularly,” Zeke Jr. said. “Anybody that you talk with, you ask about Annie Silva, they will always say she never said a bad thing about anybody. You won’t find a kinder person.”

Anita ran with a clique back in high school known as the “rainbow girls.”

“I think all these ladies have passed on, but they were all very similar in their demeanor,” he said. “They were just easy people to be around.”

Zeke Jr. noted that his mother worked for several doctors in Brownsville and “knew everybody in medicine back in Brownsville back in the ’60s.”

In keeping with the importance of family, gatherings were frequent: barbecues, Thanksgiving, parties, anniversaries and so on.

The importance of education was another message the parents drove home, and it shows: Many of the five kids hold college degrees, along with most of the grandchildren; Patsy’s son is a lawyer and Zeke Jr.’s son is a prominent San Antonio physician and president of the Bexar County Medical Society, for example.

Zeke Jr. said his mom and dad are great parents who “led by example.” As for the secret to making the marriage work for 75 years, a lot of it comes down to not going to bed angry with each other, he thinks.

“They always made it a point at the end of the day to make up and move on,” Zeke Jr. said.

It probably didn’t hurt that Memaw and Papa Zeke have always enjoyed each other’s company.

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“You could not separate them,” Patsy said. “They would always be together.”

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