After 60 Years of Married Life
Happily Ever After?
It is only possible to live happily-ever-after on a day-to-day basis.
- Margaret Bonnano
Source: Funny Times January 2002
A search for "happily ever after" on Google turned up a company by that name specialising in discount wedding invitations and bridal accessories online (unsurprising) and another company by that name in Canada which plans weddings. Then there was a toy store in Philadelphia where they "create your future by reviving your past" and hope "you will find that unique toy to make you happy." Aw, shucks. Another website by that name specialised in "Resources for Romance Writers and Readers" (not my thing)... Next I found a review of the film Happily Ever After which said it was "the story of a little girl faced with the prospect of her parents splitting up..." Then a book by that name would teach me "how to put reality into romance..."
However, I eventually came to a reference that actually seemed appropriate: a calendar which "focuses on couples who have been together for more than 30 years. Two pictures are included of each of the 12 couples - a recent photo of the pair and one from the days when they first fell in love..." Well, at least they seem to be people who actually are living "happily ever after" (if there is such a thing.)
I found the following article in a local newspaper. If there IS such a thing as "happily ever after," I would say this couple look like they may be achieving it (on a day-to-day basis)...
Morris Plains Couple Celebrates 60th Anniversary
Mr and Mrs William Kauf of Morris Plains recently celebrated their 60th wedding
Source: Daily Record Morris County Friday 18 January 2001
This One Comes Close...
True Romance: Teen Marriage Endures the Test of Time
High school sweethearts Betty Stewart and Ron Westmoreland married secretly in 1951.
by Kathleen Green
After 50-plus years, Ron Westmoreland and Betty Stewart Westmoreland can sit on their back porch for hours and never run out of things to talk about. "To me, she's still 16 years old. She was a cutie. Still is," he says of his high-school sweetheart. "She's my best friend and always has been. We're one."
Ron and Betty's Fort Worth families were very close, but it wasn't until they were teenagers that they really started talking. Ron was one year ahead in school. He remembers walking Betty and her best friend (who was Ron's neighbour) from Polytechnic High School back to the junior high in 1949. But a bashful Ron also knew that Betty was popular and always had a boyfriend. A year later, Ron and Betty saw each other again when students headed to the gym after a football game. They've been together ever since.
"My daddy was very upset when I started dating Ronnie," says Betty, now 72. She and Ron didn't find out until years later that her dad was once engaged to Betty's mom, but she broke it off. Apparently it still stung after all those years. "Ronnie's aunt told us, 'It was written in the stars. You were born for each other,'" Betty says. "I was shocked."
"She was a free spirit before they knew what that was," says Ron, also 72. "She's the happiest person I've ever been around in my life. Everybody loves her." With a possible Korean War draft, Ron suggested that they get married before he turned 18. Then they decided not to wait even that long. On 28 April 1951, Betty's best friend's mom took Ron and Betty to a county clerk's home. When they were asked their age, both said they were 18, and they were pronounced man and wife. It was their little secret.
"We both went home after we got married," she says. "Nobody knew about it for weeks." Until one day in May when Betty got home and her father asked, "Betty, how long have you been married?" Betty says they never figured out who leaked the news, but they guessed it was an old boyfriend. After school was out that summer, Betty and Ron made it official when they moved in together. Before the next summer, they reached a major milestone. "When I was in the hospital having our first baby at 17, Ronnie's mother came in crying. I was having a very hard time. They thought I was going to die because I had toxemia or eclampsia. She said, 'You should be going to the prom,'" Betty recalls. "But I didn't want to go to the prom." Betty was happy with her choices. Son Ricky was born 26 March 1952.
"We were parents at 17, and it was pretty difficult," says Ron, who worked for Santa Fe Railroad for a while before taking a job with Chance Vought Aircraft in 1955. "She took to motherhood like she'd done it all her life." They had daughter Glenda on 12 November 1954, and son Bryan on 15 May 1956. "Those kids were always sparkling," says Ron, who later earned a high school equivalency certificate and attended some college. "I'd come home from work, and she'd be playing paper dolls with our daughter. Those are the memories you never forget about. Family means everything." In 1959, Ron took a job with Marquardt Corporation, which meant moving the family to Ogden, Utah. But on a trip back to Fort Worth in late 1961, they realised how much they missed their relatives. Ron and Betty left their kids with Betty's mom that Thanksgiving and headed back to Utah to collect their furniture. "We knew it was going to be hard, and there would be trying times. And it was rough," he says. "We were two kids raising kids. We weren't that much older than they were." They stayed in Fort Worth a while, then moved to Blue Ridge, northeast of Dallas, when Ron got a job with Collins Radio (now Rockwell Collins). They moved to Richardson in 1964.
Over the years, Betty stood by Ron as he shared his love of horses and rodeos with their kids. She spent many hours in arenas watching her boys rope and her daughter barrel-race, which included the usual injuries. "That was very hard, but I had to be there," she says. "It's pretty bad when the emergency-room staff knows you when you walk in and they start pulling your file. The youngest broke his back when he was 16," from which he's had a full recovery. Then there was a punctured lung, broken arms, broken legs.
Betty worked for a while as a receptionist at a veterinary hospital to help with the kids' college expenses.
In 1974, after the Westmorelands' youngest graduated from Berkner High School in Richardson, Ron and Betty moved to Caddo Mills. They wanted property for their horses. Ron still ropes, and the kids still love horses. "We're very proud of our kids," Betty says. "They're very good people. Good citizens, thoughtful. We have a lot of pride in them."
Since retiring in 1990 as an international program manager for Rockwell, Ron worked briefly with the Superconducting SuperCollider in Ellis County. And he's also published five books, including one for children: Wild Horses of Hidden Valley. "He's been easy to love," Betty says. "I never worried about him taking care of us." They now have 8 granddaughters and 7 great-grandkids.
"It's been a great run," he says. "I wouldn't change a thing."
Betty and Ron Westmoreland say they have no regrets about defying convention by marrying during high school.
Source: dallasnews.com 13 July 2007 photo credit second photo Melanie Burford / staff photographer
The following 2 examples had their bliss interrupted, but it all seems to have turned out all right in the end...
Russian Couple Reunited after 60 Years Apart
by Will Stewart and Gethin Chamberlain
When Anna Kozlov caught sight of the elderly man clambering out of a car in her home village of Borovlyanka in Siberia, she stopped dead in her tracks, convinced her eyes were playing tricks. There, in front of her, was Boris, the man she had fallen in love with and married 60 years earlier. The last time she had seen him was 3 days after their wedding, when she kissed him goodbye and sent him off to rejoin his Red Army unit. By the time he returned, Anna was gone, consigned by Stalin’s purges to internal exile in Siberia with the rest of her family as an enemy of the people. They left no forwarding address. Frantic, Boris tried everything he could to find his young bride, but it was no good. She was gone.
Now, more than half a century later, they were reunited, an extraordinary coincidence leading them both to return to their home village on the very same day. "I thought my eyes were playing games with me," Anna said. "I saw this familiar looking man approaching me, his eyes gazing at me. My heart jumped. I knew it was him. I was crying with joy."
Now 80 years old, Boris had returned to visit his parents’ grave. As he stepped out of the car, he looked up to see Anna standing by her old house, where they had lived for the few days after the wedding. "I ran up to her and said: 'My darling, I’ve been waiting for you for so long. My wife, my life...’"
They stayed up all night, talking about everything that had happened to them and the cruel circumstances that tore them apart. They met when he was secretary of the Young Communists and had to make a speech in the village. Afterwards, she was standing there in a circle of friends, but he had eyes only for her. Her father had been purged by Stalin before the war for refusing to work in a collective farm, but Boris did not care. She was too beautiful for words. "I loved her and would always defend her," he recalled. So the romance blossomed. When he came home from the front, she was always there, waiting. In 1946, they married. It was a hasty wedding; there was no time for anything else and they could not afford anything grand in those hard years after the war. Three days later, he had to return to his unit. "We kissed goodbye - but I never expected we wouldn’t see each other for more than half a century," Anna said.
A little while later, the state caught up with her. Like her father, she was branded an enemy of the people and forced with the rest of her family into internal exile in Siberia. "I threatened to commit suicide rather than go because I couldn’t live without him," she said, "but in the end I was forced to go. It was the most miserable time of my life."
On his return, Boris was distraught. "She was always waiting for me when I came home, but this time there was no sign of her," he said. "Nobody knew where they were, or what had happened to Anna. That’s how we lost any track of each other."
In their new village, Anna’s mother resolved that the girl should remarry. She told her that Boris had remarried. "She said he had forgotten about me - that’s why no letters came. I didn’t believe it and I longed for him so much. But one day I got back home from work at a timber plant and my mum had burned all his earlier letters, poems and pictures - including our wedding photographs. She told me this other man was coming to meet me - and that I should go out with him, and if I was lucky, he’d marry me. I burst into tears and rushed into the yard. The world turned black for me. I wanted to die and I got a clothes line and went into the hayloft intending to hang myself. My mother came in and slapped me in the face and told me not to be so stupid. She persuaded me to go out with this man, Nefed, and gradually he and my mother persuaded me that this was where my future lay."
Boris, too, finally gave in and re-married. He became a writer, penning a book dedicated to the woman he’d married as a young soldier but only ever spent 3 nights with. In time, their respective spouses died. With the demise of the Soviet Union, Anna was once more able to travel home. Then came the chance reunion. "I felt the same when we met last year," Boris said. "I couldn’t take my eyes off her. Yes I had loved other women when we were separated. But she was the true love of my life." He suggested they marry again. Anna resisted, but says he talked her round. "What’s the point, I said, we can just live together the rest of our lives? But he insisted. I never thought I’d be a bride at my age but it was my happiest wedding. Since we found each other again, I swear we haven’t had a single quarrel. We’ve been parted for so long and who knows how much is left for us, so we just don’t want to lose time on arguing."
Source: telegraph.co.uk 13 January 2008
Together at Last, after 70 Years
Together at last: Joan Dean and Phil O'Neill were not allowed to marry at the time of World War 2.
by Ben Fawkes
They were teenage sweethearts separated by war and sectarian prejudice. Now Phil O'Neill and Joan Dean are about to marry, nearly 70 years after he first intended to propose.
"She's a wonderful lady," said Mr O'Neill. "People don't say gidday to Joan - they hug her." The pair, now both 85, first met at primary school in Masterton before crossing paths again after high school at the swimming club. "She was a vivacious tomboy, always riding motorbikes," Mr O'Neill said. "She was just beautiful... She still is."
The pair were separated when World War II broke out. Mr O'Neill, whose father fought at Gallipoli, was quick to volunteer. He left for Europe with the 2nd echelon of the 2nd New Zealand Expeditionary Force in 1940, but planned to ask his sweetheart to marry him before departing. Parental intervention stymied his plans and he set sail to Europe in a pique. "Joan came to see me and said she was forbidden to see me because I was a Catholic. I blamed Joan, which was a very unfair thing to do. I think girls in those days did what their fathers told them to do."
Mrs Dean said: "I was the eldest and Dad always said, 'You have to set an example,' which irked me immensely." She wrote to Mr O'Neill several times while he was away but, still stinging from his rejection, he did not answer. Mrs Dean kept hold of the engagement ring he had bought for her, which he had hurled down the driveway of his family home after being told their relationship was over. "I kept in touch with Phil's mother and older sister. They brought me the ring a few months after he left. I kept it in its damaged state for 30 years and then I made it into a dress ring."
Mr O'Neill fought with the 22nd Battalion on the Greek mainland and in Crete, where he was captured during the fighting at Maleme airfield. He spent the remainder of the war in German camps, escaping on 3 occasions before being repatriated when the Soviet Union overran Poland in 1945. Mrs Dean married and settled in Masterton. Mr O'Neill married in England during the war and later ran an aluminium business in Lower Hutt. After their spouses died, neither expected to have a new relationship, let alone to marry again. Mutual friends put them in touch and a lunch date in Wairarapa in January reignited their relationship." Joan said, 'I'm not looking for romance, just a lovely friend'... I thought, 'Sister, you don't know where you're going,'" Mr O'Neill said.
They got engaged two months ago and plan to marry in Masterton, probably at the end of June.
Source: stuff.co.nz 20 May 2008 photo credit Kent Blechynden / The Dominion Post
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