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70 years and counting: Lorigs' romance endures

Marvin and Doris Lorig are celebrating their 70th wedding anniversary today.

Marvin and Doris Lorig are celebrating their 70th wedding anniversary today.

ALBANY, Ga. — Today is a day of numbers — big numbers — for Marvin and Doris Lorig.

"90-95-70," Marvin reminds a visitor with a wink.

Doris, who turned 90 in February, and Marvin, who will be 95 the day after Independence Day, are enjoying a platinum milestone today as they celebrate their 70th wedding anniversary.

"You don't hear much about 70th anniversaries, do you?" Doris asked as she and Marvin reminisced about some of the highlights of their seven decades together. "You hear about plenty of 50s up to 65 or so, but once you get past that, they seem to die off.

"It's all been about true love. Everyone should have a husband so wonderful."

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Marvin and Doris Lorig are shown in this photograph from around 1943.

Not that the Lorigs have the slightest intention of slowing down just because they're marking 70 years together. Doris still keeps their 6,000-square-foot West Albany home spotless and does her own yardwork. Marvin, meanwhile, taught himself how to use a computer when he was a younger man of 78, and despite recent hip surgery that's slowed him down, he just bought himself a new Ford C-Max Hybrid.

"You don't have to do a lot of the driving, you just tell it what to do," Marvin says, a touch of awe in his voice. "You talk to the car, and it talks back to you. It's like having another person in the car with you.

"Doris hasn't driven for the last nine years; she had an accident and it scared her. But she still does a little backseat driving."

Doris laughs at her husband's barb, then gives as good as she gets.

"That computer's become like his second home," she laughs. "I always have a different kind of 'honey-do' list for him: I'll make him a list of things to look up for me on the computer."

The Lorigs met on a blind date while Marvin was the manager of local radio station WGPC and Doris was a telephone operator for Bell South. The radio station got four tickets to see the Ringling Brothers Circus, and Marvin suggested that co-worker Lois Snow treat her boyfriend and another couple.

"She told me she'd rather go with me and a date she wanted to set me up with, and I let her talk me into it," Marvin says.

Doris picks up the story.

"Lois was my roommate, and she told me she wanted me to go to the circus with Marvin," Doris said. "I told her I didn't want to go out with that ugly old man."

Doris' hesitation notwithstanding, Snow's match-making skills proved to be quite impressive.

"We went on that first date and just kept dating," Marvin said. "We got married nine months later."

Marvin and Doris tied the knot while he was on three-day leave from the Army. He'd been designated 4-F, eligible only for non-military service because he had no sight in his right eye and one leg was shorter than the other.

"I fought the battle of Atlanta," Marvin jokes.

The couple spent their wedding night at a cousin's home in Macon and went on the next day to Atlanta, where Marvin was stationed at Fort McPherson. When he got back to the base, Doris went home and back to her job with Bell South.

"We didn't have a honeymoon; who could afford a honeymoon?" Doris said. "I didn't get to visit him that often, but I did get to go up long enough to get pregnant. That's when the fun really started."

While in the Army, Marvin worked as part of headquarters staff, interviewing draftees and administering classification tests. He was selected, though, to be part of a group that entertained wounded troops.

"They told me they wanted me to go to Lawson General Hospital in Chamblee, but I'd already told them I wanted to go to Columbus and work with Armed Services Radio," Marvin said. "They asked me to make one visit, and they took me to the worst wards, where the amputees and all the injured soldiers were.

"I couldn't leave, so I told them to change my orders."

Lorig entertained troops at the hospital, performing with and serving as emcee for visiting celebrities who came through to cheer up the injured soldiers. He drops the names — and shows off photographs — of such stars as Mickey Rooney, Ruby Dee, Richard Dix, Joel McCrea, Janice Paige, and the strikingly beautiful Wilde Twins.

"I was the only one who could tell them apart," Marvin says, a twinkle in his eye.

When he left the Army, Marvin returned to Albany, initially expecting to resume his management job at WGPC. Federal law required businesses to hire back former employees who served during the war at the same or a higher position, but when management balked at giving Marvin his job back, he had federal lawyers working for the local draft board intervene.

"They sent me back (to Columbus) to see the station owner again, and his secretary told me he was busy checking his stocks," Marvin says. "I told her to go tell him if he doesn't see me, he won't have any stocks left to check. I went back to Albany with my job."

But Marvin wasn't interested in returning to a job where he wasn't wanted. So he and his best friend, Harvey Cohen, started the Southern Diaper Service business.

"He got the idea one day when I ran out of diapers for our daughter," Doris laughs.

With $1,000 he borrowed from his dad, $1,000 Cohen borrowed from his brother and a $1,000 loan from the bank, the young businessmen started their diaper-washing/delivery service. The going was slow at first — pay for the young entrepreneurs started at $100 a month, gradually increased to $30 a week, then $35, and finally a regular salary.

They borrowed a friend's washing machine after hours to clean the diapers, then folded them in Cohen's parents' home. Marvin then made deliveries in an old pickup.

"I worked at a shoe store on Saturdays to help make ends meet, and I broadcast the Albany Cardinals' games on the radio," Marvin said.

Lorig and Cohen expanded their enterprise to include Flint Industrial Cleaning Service a short while later, and their company eventually evolved into F&S Services. They sold it after 50 years.

"It was just us when we started the business," Marvin said. "When we sold it, we had 111 people working with us, owned 46 vehicles and had warehouses all over the region. We made deliveries to three states."

Marvin Lorig's reputation as a hard-working businessman earned him some well-known friends in high places, people like Gil Barrett and James H. Gray. Those relationships helped land him positions as manager of the annual Exchange Club Fair (for 47 years), city/county Planning Board Chairman for 27 years (a position now held, ironically, by his son-in-law, William Geer), Board of Registration chairman for six years and a position on the Dougherty County Stadium Authority.

Lorig and Gray also helped start the Albany Sports Hall of Fame.

While Marvin was constantly in the public eye, Doris chose to stay in the background, taking care of the couple's two girls and the family's home. Theirs was always a partnership that worked, and today, as their big day arrives, the Lorigs have decided to forego a huge celebration.

"We have so many friends, we didn't want there to be parking issues on our street, and we didn't want to hurt any of our friends' feelings by leaving them out," Doris says.

So, a quiet evening at home?

"I don't know how quiet it's gonna be around here," Marvin, who's been known to half-convince some friends that his grandfather "helped dig the Flint River," says with that by-now familiar twinkle.

Their visitor feels obligated to ask how they've managed to stay together for 70 years, wondering aloud what the gift is for a 70th anniversary.

"Whatever it is, we don't need it," Doris says. "You live together 70 years, you manage to save plenty of stuff."

Marvin ponders the question, then offers a surprisingly sweet answer that says a lot about how a man and woman stay in love for seven decades.

"When our youngest daughter graduated from school, I told Doris, 'Baby, you don't have to get up early anymore and fix breakfast, I'll go out and eat,'" this man, who with his beautiful wife is easily one of Albany's lasting treasures, says. "But before I'd go out to eat, I'd give her a kiss and tell her I loved her. Believe me, if I forgot either one, she'd let me know about it later."

Then, as he wished his visitor farewell, Marvin offered that sly wink again: "Let's do this again when we reach 100," he said.