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‘Diligent in wanting to be together’

Mays mark 50 years with 5 generations

Weddings and anniversaries and birthdays, oh my! This was a weekend for landmark celebrations among one of Steamboat’s founding families.

Bill and Cynthia May celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary and Cynthia’s spry mother, Gladys Biffle, celebrated her 95th birthday at the First Baptist Church on Sunday. The family wrapped the weekend into one whopping celebration, because Bill and Cynthia’s granddaughter, Candice May Martin, was married Saturday to Hiram Martin in Steamboat.

Bill and Cynthia, who moved into assisted living in Fruita last fall, will mark their official anniversary June 26. They met at Bill’s S-Bar-S ranch when Cynthia was visiting from New Mexico more than 50 years ago. Their first date was at a barn dance at Frank Stetson’s ranch, Cynthia said.



“Fifty years went phwoosh,” said Cynthia over a barbecue lunch of burgers and potato salads.

“We used to think people who’d been married that long had to be real old. But it’s getting younger all the time,” Bill said as five generations milled about the festive church basement.



Biffle sat across the pink, confetti-strewn table from Bill and Cynthia and shared stories of her childhood with five sisters and eight brothers. She reminisced about spending 13 weeks moving by wagons and teams from Oregon to New Mexico when she was 12 years old. Every once in a while, they had to stop to wash their clothes and give the horses a rest, she said. She said her mother drove the family’s Model-T the whole way.

Biffle’s advice for longevity: “Just hang in there,” she said. “It’s been a real good life. Some of it was tough, but we made it.”

With so much family gathered together, almost everyone had a story to share or an explanation on why Bill and Cynthia have stuck together so well.

“They’ve always just been a very tight couple. They worked very hard,” said their nephew, Mike Levesque. “The love and commitment they have for each other has helped them stay together.”

Levesque and his sister, Christina Levesque, said they used to spend quite a bit of time at the Mays’ ranch while growing up. Bill taught Christina the all-important skill of how to mix your peanut butter and jelly so it won’t fall off during the cattle drive, Christina remembered fondly.

Bill and Cynthia’s grandson, Quayle Chew, said he thought the key to celebrating their 50-year anniversary was “short memory.” Another grandson, Kody May, suggested the answer might be to “let the woman wear the pants. That’s what kept them going.”

The Mays’ daughter, Grace Chew, admired the dedication and honesty in her parents’ relationship. “Make it real — they have,” she said. “They’ve forgiven each other, and they’ve stuck through hard times. My parents are like a team — a team of horses. It takes teamwork to stay together that long.”

For Martin, the newly wed bride in the crowd, the afternoon celebration was “incredible.”

“They’re the most awesome couple ever. I respect them so much,” Martin said while doting over her grandparents. As the first generation college student, she said her grandparents were a key to helping her achieve her goals.

And that was pretty much the consensus for what Bill and Cynthia have done for each other all along.

“It takes love, tolerance, forgiveness — and love,” said daughter-in-law Barb May. “They’ve worked side by side. Even in their old age they’re diligent in wanting to be together.”


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