— -- On their 57th anniversary, James “Jim” Russell showed up to his wife Elinor’s hospital room wearing a tuxedo and carrying flowers and chocolate.
“We’ve known each other all our lives. We just never paid attention to each other for some time,” Elinor told ABC News today. “I’ve known her since she was in pigtails,” said Jim.
Jim says he can remember Elinor for as long as he can remember.
They grew up near each other in neighboring towns in Georgia, but he didn’t pay much attention to her at the time.
He went to a military college, and upon graduation two years later, “a draft card was waiting for me” and Jim went off to fight in World War II. Jim became a combat bomber pilot, flying 30 missions over Germany in a B-24 Liberator. After the war, he went to Georgia Tech thanks to the GI Bill, and then their friendship kindled.
On May 20, 1958, Jim and Elinor eloped “on a dark, stormy day,” she said.
The couple does not have any set tradition for celebrating their anniversary, in fact, their son Bo said they “like to keep their anniversary low key” and they usually go out to dinner and Jim will bring his wife flowers or chocolate. Elinor said that “we always went out and celebrated.” One year they went to Rome and for their 50th anniversary, they went to Hawaii but “we usually stayed close to home,” Elinor said.
As a couple, they joined a dance club and would go ballroom dancing every weekend, their son Bo said.
For the past month, Elinor has been in the hospital. Their family wanted to come up with an idea on how to make their anniversary special.
“My kids decided it would be great to do something special for my bride, so I went along with it,” Jim said.
To make it special, Jim showed up to Elinor’s hospital room wearing a tuxedo, one he wore ballroom dancing on weekends, Bo said. In addition to the tuxedo, he walked in carrying flowers and chocolate for his wife.
Elinor’s two granddaughters did her make up.
The two dined together in Elinor’s hospital room and watched their two favorite shows, "Jeopardy" and "Wheel of Fortune" and they “had a wonderful time sitting here and talking,” said Elinor.
Elinor said she loved the celebration because “being in a hospital bed, you get bored so when they came in, it made me smile like the younger days when we were dancing.”