At first, Henry and Bertha Webb only knew each other as neighbors. Their romance, however, began at the senior prom.
“It was a senior prom,” Henry says. “For old folks.”
The senior prom was held in the gymnasium of Curie High School in Chicago and attended by around 200 seniors in the area. Just like a high school senior prom, people brought dates, and a prom king and queen were crowned.
As the Prom King and Queen were about to be revealed, Henry was not expecting anything. So when he heard his name announced as the Senior Prom King, he was taken aback. But when Henry saw that Bertha, who lived in an apartment down the hall from him at Autumn Green at Midway Village, was walking up to the stage to join him as Prom Queen, he was shocked.
“When they called two of us from Autumn Green living on the same floor it was amazing to me,” Henry says. “I was shocked, because I didn’t escort her to the prom. I escorted another lady.”
His date was less than pleased to see Henry and Bertha embracing their royal titles after the prom.
“[Bertha and I] rode back together on the bus, and [my date] hit me on the back–boom!”
Henry sent a picture of himself and Bertha to his cousin, a minister. “He said, ‘Junior’–they call me Junior– ‘Junior, you marry that gal,’” Henry recalls. “‘That gal is for you.’”
After about a year of dating, Henry and Bertha were celebrating the birthdays of some of their neighbors at Autumn Green when Henry said he had an announcement. As the room quieted down, he dropped to one knee and proposed to Bertha in front of the entire community.
While the proposal went smoothly, actually getting married was a little trickier than expected. Henry and Bertha made a trip to City Hall and obtained their marriage license, but when they visited a nearby attorney’s office to be legally wed, they were notified of the waiting period enforced in Illinois.
“They said, ‘No, you can’t get married,’” Henry says. “‘You’ve got to wait at least 24 hours.’ I said, ‘What?’”
When they returned to Autumn Green, they found that their neighbors and the staff had adorned the place with congratulatory signs and festive decorations. Henry and Bertha had to break the news that they still weren’t actually married.
Their local precinct captain put the couple in touch with a judge who was on his way to Midway airport early the next morning. He would be able to stop by Autumn Green to conduct the ceremony.
“He said, ‘Well it’ll be pro bono, but you gotta get up at 7 o’clock in the morning,” Henry recalls.
Henry and Bertha agreed. The next morning, they went downstairs to the library, where they had been told the ceremony would take place. But they were then led to the media room, where they were surprised to find their neighbors, friends, and community staff awaiting the entrance of the bride and groom.
Dressed in their Wii bowling team shirts, Henry and Bertha exchanged their vows and rings. The King and Queen of the Senior Prom were officially married.
“Ninety percent of the residents were down there,” Henry says. “And that was about 8 o’clock in the morning. We had a big wedding, a big audience there with us.”
Henry and Bertha Webb will be celebrating three happy years of marriage on March 10.
Read about Henry’s trip to the World War II Memorial during the government shutdown.