We often hear stories of those fleeting marriages that last a few years, or in a rather well publicized case, 63 days. But what of the couples who made their commitments and stuck to them? Meet three couples that have each been married more than 60 years. They’ve witnessed wars, numerous presidents, space travel, advancements in technology, and for some, gut-wrenching events. But in the end, they’ve stayed together. They’ve weathered the storms, changed with the times and now share their golden years, as always, together.
Ed and Joan Michaud
Wedding date: June 17, 1952
Progeny: 5 children, 9 grandchildren, 3 great-granchildren
Words of wisdom: “Commit to being married,” says Joan. “If the roof leaks, you don’t tear down the house.”
If hardships come early in a relationship, maybe it’s just good to get them out of the way. For Joan and Ed Michaud, that hardship came in the form of a polio diagnosis four months after they were married. “I was pretty upset after I left him in the contagion ward at Anchor Hospital,” says Joan in their tidy home in the Arbors. “He stayed there for six weeks; he was the first person to get gammaglobulin, and was able to walk out of there.”
For Ed, the memory is ever-present. “The doctor walked in and gave me 100 cc’s in each side of my rear end,” he says. “They were looking for someone big to experiment on; I thought, ‘What’s it going to hurt?’” It saved his life.
The couple met at White Bear High School after Ed transferred there from Cretin High School; he was a senior and Joan a junior. “He had broken his leg in football practice and stood up with the crutches on my foot,” says Joan with a laugh.
The relationship took off after the pair met up that summer at the Blue Top roller rink and Joan taught him how to roller-skate. Afterward, they went to The Roundtop Drive-In, but Ed said he wasn’t hungry and Joan was too nervous to eat the hamburger she ordered.
They fell in love, and Ed joined the National Guard and was sent to serve in the Korean War in 1951. He’d send money home to Joan, where she’d buy furniture for their little cottage on Bald Eagle Lake they would move into after the wedding.
Once Ed came home, he worked myriad jobs, but eventually landed at Engineering Resources Associates, which, ultimately, became Sperry Univac; he stayed for 34 years. Joan worked at the St. Paul Dispatch for a while, but then stayed home and raised the couple’s five children.
After Ed retired, they spent a lot of time “following the sun” in their little Ranchero RV. “Those were great years,” says Joan.
They renewed their vows, just the two of them, on their 50th wedding anniversary.
“I could go on and on about her,” says Ed, as he looks at Joan. “We think about each other … What else can I say?”
Kenneth and Harriet Kjarum
Wedding date: October 4, 1947
Progeny: 4 children, 5 grandchildren, 6 great-granchildren
Words of wisdom: “Have a lot of patience,” says Kenneth. “And a common goal.”
“I guess you could say we’re lutefisk soulmates,” says Kenneth Kjarum of Harriet, his wife of 66 years. The two cod-loving folks met in Austin, Minn., when Harriet was 17 and Kenneth was 23, recently returned from the war.
“His brother was going with my girlfriend,” says Harriet. “I was working at a sweet shop and I saw him there. The next day I was walking down the street and he rushed over to talk to me; that was it.”
They dated for a while, and got married at a small church in Austin. Harriet wore a beautiful white suit, and dinner was at her folks’ house. Kenneth spent 40 years at the Hormel plant in town and together they raised four children. They camped as often as they could, spending time with their three daughters and one son, and instilling in each of them a love of the outdoors and the sanctity of family. Harriet created fabulous meals over their pop-up cook stove, and Kenneth took photos as the days unfolded.
Together, they built their dream home on 10 acres of pristine land in Willow River. “When we sold it 25 years later, we still had to hire someone to finish it up,” says Kenneth. “That’s a true do-it-yourself project. It was fun to have the shack paid for. If you work for 40 years, for crying out loud, you should be able to pay for something.”
One of Kenneth’s favorite photos is Harriet on a gleaming tractor on their Willow River land, with the hay up near the floorboards, a wide smile on her face and her arm waving to him. “Look how happy she is,” says Kenneth.
Their happiness was tested when their son died of a heart attack three years ago at the age of 62. “A lot of good hymns got us through that,” says Kenneth. “No matter what problems you have, you don’t have to look too far to see someone worse off.”
Kenneth, now 90, spends time on Facebook and thinking about his wife’s cooking. They play cards and like to visit with others at the White Pine Senior Living complex they now call home. “We’re still friends,” says Kenneth of his relationship with Harriet. “In love as in life, it’s not what you gather that matters, it’s what you scatter.”
Arvid (Al) and Betty Morey
Wedding date: September 15, 1946
Progeny: 6 children, 14 grandchildren, 8 great-grandchildren
Words of wisdom: “Work through the bad days,” says Betty. “It’s a rollercoaster ride, but hang in there because you can get through it.”
When Betty and Al Morey got married 67 years ago they knew they were meant to be together. But when they learned recently while doing some genealogy research that their great-grandparents lived in the same small village of 350 people, even though Betty was raised in Indiana and Al in Wisconsin, well, that only solidified their connection. “We thought that was something special,” says Betty, who goes on to reveal they found a bill of sale from her great-grandparents’ estate sale that showed Al’s great-grandfather still owed $5.76 for a rifle. “I’ve been trying to collect my money ever since,” she adds with a chuckle.
Betty and Al met at a church in downtown St. Louis; she had just graduated high school in Indiana and moved to Missouri with her parents, and Al was serving in the army. They spent time together, but in a group with other kids. Betty left for Purdue three years later, and the two fell in love while exchanging long, philosophical letters. In one of those letters in May 1946, Al wrote he was coming down to see her; he proposed on the train as they were heading back to St. Louis. They had a church wedding and a reception at Betty’s aunt and uncle’s house.
Al went to seminary and graduated when their oldest daughter (one of six children) started kindergarten. He was a pastor for 42 years in various locations in the Midwest. They camped and traveled as a family and spent three years in a motor home after Al retired. “The first 40 years revolved around him and his career,” says Betty, “so I told him the next 40 years were mine.”
They now spend their time on genealogy projects at their home in Cerenity Senior Care in White Bear Lake and with their “tribe.”(family). Al, who always had a beautiful voice but is now battling Alzheimer’s, still sings songs to his beloved bride.
“We took marriage seriously,” says Al. “Ain’t we got fun?”