LOVE, LOVE, LOVE: 3 MARATHON COUPLES SHARE THEIR VALENTINE’S STORY

The Marathon Weekly loves to celebrate our love stories. In the following pages, find a collection of couples who are living their best lives together in the Middle Keys. Happy Valentine’s Day!

Candice and Bobby Grostefon. MAGGIE SAYER/Contributed

She has an island lilt when she speaks. He has an irrepressible grin, likely because he managed to catch her and keep her. They were born and raised on islands 1,657 miles apart and met at Barry University when Candice was a freshman and Bobby was a sophomore.

“I was studying exercise physiology,” said Candice, a native of Trinidad who came to the U.S. to further her education and would finish with a master’s degree.

“And I was studying her,” said Bobby, laughing, who grew up in Marathon and graduated from Marathon High School.

“No, seriously, what did you get your degree in?” she jokes, also laughing. 

The two were married in 2010 — first a simple affair in the Keys, and then a big party in Trinidad to meet the needs of the U.S. Department of Immigration. They will soon welcome their third child. (The gender will be a surprise to everyone, including his or her parents.) Despite that fact that the two have sand in their toes — true island children raising more island children — they are busy professionals. 

Together they manage a landscaping company, car wash and real estate investments. Their home has a huge entertaining area, constantly full before CRE (Covid Ruined Everything). “I love to have people over, but not formal parties. We all stand around here and I open the bags from Publix,” said Candice, smiling. 

He says their pumpkin-carving parties are renowned. Both enjoy traveling — a semester spent in Spain with European travel, the Caribbean islands, the U.S. — and look forward to when they can do it again. 

Their bond is evident, even in the distractions of married life. 

“When he’s telling me a story, I always ask him so many questions. I want to know the exact wording and exactly what happened,” Candice said. 

“And she runs on ‘Trini’ time, which means she’s usually late. I used to mind it, but not any more. I like everything about her,” Bobby said. 

If she were to cook his favorite Trinidad dish it would be stewed chicken. If he were to take her on a Valentine’s date (possibly delayed, as this is a camping weekend), it would have to be somewhere that served a rack of lamb. 

Love on, Candice and Bobby. 

Fun facts:

  • For some of the best soca music coming out of Trinidad, check out Kes. 
  • Pumpkin carving dates to ancient Celtic culture — where gourds were carved to scare away “Stingy Jack.” 
  • Sample green card marriage interview question: How late did the wedding guests stay? 
Barbara and Tom Wright. CONTRIBUTED

BARBARA & TOM

Tom Wright is a practicing real estate attorney, perhaps on the precipice of retirement. Barbara Wright is a retired school teacher and her last job with the Monroe County School District was as principal of Stanley Switlik Elementary. This year, they will celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary.

Barbara and Tom have known each other since the fifth grade. During their senior year of high school in Toledo, Ohio, they started dating.

“The thing was, she was dating another guy that didn’t have a car, so we would go on double dates. After about the third date — each one with a different girl on my arm — I thought I’d better ask her out,” said Tom.

They were married a week after Barbara received her diploma, an undergraduate education degree from Bowling Green in 1971.

“It was a December day, with light snow. The church was filled with candles and I wore a white velvet wedding dress and my bridesmaids wore red velvet,” said Barbara.

“It was a beautiful, white night,” echoed Tom.

After receiving their undergraduate degrees, the two enrolled at Ohio State — he to get a law degree courtesy of the U.S. Navy, she to get a master’s degree in education. By the time his degree was finished in 1976, the Vietnam War was over. His first posting was in Key West.

“We’d never been to Florida. I don’t think we’d been south of Ohio. We arrived in January,” Tom said.

“We thought, ‘This is nice,’” said Barbara, smiling.

And that’s the thing about these two: they are always laughing. Or more accurately, he’s telling jokes and she’s giggling like a schoolgirl. But in many ways these two were trailblazers — a young professional couple with dual career tracks, back in the ’70s, long before it was an accepted norm.

“We just never stopped,” said Barbara, “even when we had kids.”

“I think she took a three-week maternity leave,” Tom said.

Tom and Barbara have three kids — David lives in Marathon, Courtney is in Denver and just produced the couple’s first grandchild, and Natalie lives in San Francisco.

By 1979, the couple had settled in Marathon. It was a much different place back then. He can recall it taking an entire afternoon to count the bagged cash (ahem) to complete a real estate transaction.

So, what’s the secret to a long marriage?

Tom: “A short memory.”

Barbara, laughing: “We like to do things together.”

They both profess a love of travel and have a second home in New Hampshire. “We like the contrast of the Keys,” she said. Next stop is Japan, as soon as the pandemic is over. In the meantime, Barb will continue to indulge in her favorite pastime — any type of televised, historical British drama. Tom will entertain himself with televised sports and all the up-and-coming tech gadgets.

Fun facts:

  • Tom Wright continued to serve the U.S. Navy for decades as a reserve JAG officer. He retired as a full captain.
  • The couple’s first big purchase was a 1972 (or 1973?) orange Toyota Corolla.
  • Tom and Barbara’s daughter married a man by the last name of Wright who is also a lawyer, which means they could start their own firm: Wright & Wright & Wright.  
Liz and Andrew Castro. CONTRIBUTED

LIZ & ANDREW

These two have such nice things to say to each other.

Andrew: “She’s so brave.”

Liz: “He’s such a great father. I think it’s a very special quality he possesses that always makes time for the kids no matter what.”

Litney “Liz” Castro and Andrew Ellis first crossed paths in Marathon. They were next-door neighbors and both at Marathon High School at the same time, though he graduated a couple years (2008) before she did (2010). Then, they went their separate ways.

“I ran into him again in 2017 when I went to Hawks Cay to apply for a job and he was working the front desk,” Liz said.

Soon after they met and started dating, they decided to open a business — Ace Marine Detailing. The company specializes mainly in boats and yachts, restoring faded gel coats. They do work on cars, too, refreshing ceramic coatings.

“Over the years we’ve built a good client base who in turn give us referrals,” said Andrew.

She handles the marketing and scheduling; he does the financials and keeps the crew going with the latest technical wizardry. Pre-pandemic, Liz would jump in with the restorations, too. But now she has her hands full with four kids at home — ages 10, 8, 7 and 4. Both agree that these are “really, really good kids” who keep them busy. On the weekends, Andrew and Liz set aside family time for backyard barbecues, swimming and visits to an Aunt’s farm.

They are well matched in every way except one. He’s 6’1” and she’s 5’1”.

“Honey, why did you put the Ring camera boxes on top of the cabinets?” she asked, laughing.

“Why did you put my clean clothes in the laundry again?” he countered, also laughing, explaining she has a love of washing machines.

In addition to starting a business together, Liz recently qualified to become a Realtor. Both are also certified divers, despite his initial misgivings about swimming where sharks eat.

“I’d have never done it unless she signed me up,” he said of the dive certification classes. “She’s just so brave.” 

Fun facts:

  • The last movie Andrew and Liz watched together (with the kids) was “Mulan.” They give it a thumbs up.
  • Ace Marine Detailing’s nano ceramic coating has a molecular structure that bonds with almost any surface — fabric, leather, paint, metal, glass, etc.
  • The average American family does 8–10 loads of laundry each week.

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