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Valentines for nearly seven decades

Rolland and Marcella Royer smile as they hold up their wedding photo from 1948. The couple celebrated their 67th wedding anniversary last August. (Photo by Teri Cadeau)1 / 4
Duane and JoAn Rands celebrated their 65th anniversary in August. (Photo by Teri Cadeau)2 / 4
Roberta and Donald Rothe have been married for 69 years. (Photo by Teri Cadeau)3 / 4
Elaine Worringer holds up a copy of her wedding photo book with her husband Bill in their room at Edgewood Vista. The Worringers will celebrate their 68th wedding anniversary on Feb. 17. (Photo by Teri Cadeau)4 / 4

What's the secret to a long and happy marriage? There's no one correct answer. However, couples who have been married for over 65 years might have a good idea.

In honor of Valentine's Day, the Budgeteer visited Edgewood Vista, a senior independent and assisted living community in Hermantown, to speak with four couples to find out how they met and what it takes to stay together.

Love, consideration, and mutual respect

When Marcella Royer first met her husband Rolland, in 1945, she didn't like him very much. She was having coffee with her sister and a friend at the Zelda Theater when Rolland, on leave from the U.S. Army Medical Corps, strolled up with two fellow World War II soldiers.

"I just thought he was kind of arrogant and thought he was a big-time soldier. I just didn't care for him," Marcella said. "But after I got to know him, I thought, gee, he's not so bad."

"It wasn't love at first sight for either of us, but I guess it was meant to be," Rolland said.

After "going together" for three years, the couple married on Aug. 13, 1948. This year they'll celebrate their 68th wedding anniversary.

"We were gutsy. We got married on Friday the 13th," Marcella said. "We wanted it to be on a Friday so we could have the weekend off to take a short honeymoon at a lake near Mille Lacs."

Rolland's advice for young couples is to rely on love and consideration.

"They make a marriage work," he said.

Marcella adds that the first year of marriage can seem "like serious business," but "the more you're together, the more you understand what it's all about."

"We've had respect for one another in everything we did, especially our religion and families," Marcella said.

Marcella attends a Lutheran church while Rolland is Catholic. On Sundays, they'd attend churches hardly three blocks apart.

"I don't know if our parents were too happy with the combination of our religions, but we just went with our feelings and never really discussed it much. We felt that we weren't marrying our parents, so it was OK," Marcella said. "We've just respected each other's beliefs."

Build upon friendship

"Can you remember what you said when you first met me?" Elaine Worringer asked her husband, Bill.

"I should, but not right now," he said.

"I do. I walked out of the office and he was standing there buying parts for his car. He said 'Say, she's cute.' I turned around and said, 'Thank you,'" Elaine replied.

Elaine was working for Waters Motor Company in Madison, Wis. Bill came in to buy parts regularly for his car. After a few months of chatting while Elaine worked, the two bumped into each other at a dance, developed a friendship and later started dating. After Bill was discharged from the Air Force, the couple married on Feb. 17, 1949. The Worringers raised two sons and two daughters. On Friday, they'll celebrate their 68th anniversary.

Elaine's advice to young people is to develop a friendship first.

"You have to be good friends, I think. It keeps you going," she said.

Bill's advice is to marry someone who is perfect for you.

"She's been a perfect gal. Absolutely perfect," he said.

"Oh, not perfect," Elaine quickly replied.

"Well, you are, too. To me, you are," he said, taking her hand.

Work hard and save wisely

It's a good thing Roberta Rothe is tall. She said she got her job at Freimuth's Department store in the shoe department because she was tall enough to push the big stacks of boxes around on top of the shelves.

"Donald's auntie was the head of the hosiery department, so she introduced us while he was on leave from the Navy," Roberta said. "He'd come in each time I was working and we'd talk for a while."

"I had been on a submarine for two years and she looked very good to me. She looks very good to me yet," Donald said.

The Rothes have been married for 69 years.

"That time has gone by so fast, though," Roberta said. "It feels like just yesterday that we were living in the Piedmont Heights, with our young kids."

What advice to the Rothes have for couples today?

"You have to work hard and you can't spend foolishly," Roberta said. "We never did. We saved as wisely as we could."

'Just do the best you can'

JoAn and Duane Rands can't quite remember how they met.

"It was through friends, I'm pretty sure. But I don't remember just meeting him one day. I remember we went to a carnival at Munger School, but we didn't meet there," JoAn said. "Either way, he kept coming back for another date, so that's what counts."

Duane remembers thinking they were a "good match" so he proposed and they married in 1951. The couple celebrated their 65th anniversary in August. Duane worked for the Air National Guard for 34 years, while JoAn served as a secretary for Bayview Elementary in Proctor. The couple shares an appreciation for handmade things. After renting in Duluth for a few years, Duane built a family home in Munger in which to raise their two sons and two daughters. JoAn enjoys sewing and knitting and once sewed Duane a tent so they could go camping, another shared passion.

"We still have it, somewhere," JoAn said.

When asked what advice they had for young couples today, the Rands didn't have much to say.

"Just do the best you can. That's all," JoAn said.

Teri Cadeau

Teri Cadeau is a reporter for the Budgeteer.

(218) 720-4176
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