Communication is key, couples say of their enduring marriages
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For these couples, if Cupid's arrow was any more on target, he might have injured someone.
More than 50 years later, their romances show no sign of slowing.
What better time than Valentine's Day to prod them to spill the secrets to their half-century-long marriages?
Some of the couples, however, place little emphasis on Feb. 14, stressing instead their day-to-day, year-round relationship.
Focus on family
"We figure we're giving each other gifts every day," Ron Wolfe, 76, said of Valentine's Day.
Rather than buying each other flowers or candy, he and his wife, Lynn, 70, will celebrate Valentine's Day with the treasure that keeps on giving: family.
Specifically, they'll watch grandson Nickolas DeLisio play hockey.
The Plum couple have five children and eight grandchildren.
Family has always been important to them, beginning with their decision to elope on Aug. 11, 1962, to avoid a Catholic-Protestant clash in the family over the choice of denomination for the ceremony.
Family remained the focus throughout their ups and downs.
When Mr. Wolfe's sales position kept him on the road Mondays through Thursdays for 30 years, the Wolfes and their children spent time together on the weekends.
"Ron and I made a serious commitment to each other, and although the times were not always great, it wasn't just Ron and Lynn but the family to consider," Mrs. Wolfe said of her key to a lasting partnership.
"When it comes to decision-making, you do it together," Mr. Wolfe said of his secret to a successful marriage.
"The best part of a long relationship is looking at your grandchildren and seeing your children in them," Mr. Wolfe said.
Bill and Dorothy Beers were classmates at South Huntingdon High School, but they didn't date until years later, when a niece reintroduced them at a local roller skating rink.
The West Newton couple were married on July 9, 1960, and today, they have three children, two grandchildren and a great-grandchild.
Mrs. Beers, 76, said keeping the embers alive is all about working out problems and sticking together through thick and thin.
For Mr. Beers, 75, a retired tool-and-die-maker, the magic word is "compromise."
Companionship, the couple agreed, is the pot of gold at day's end.
As for Valentine's Day, Mrs. Beers said, it is "no big deal."
"When you get as old as we are and have been together so long, you get things as you need them." Mr. Beers said. "We look ahead, make a list and buy them."
Give and take
"We just love each other and try to do things together and be happy with each other," Julie Knudson, 75, said of her 56-year marriage to Jerry, 76.
The childhood sweethearts' relationship was literally cemented as teens when her father was looking for someone to do cement work for a new home, and her future father-in-law and husband answered the call.
She graduated from high school on a Tuesday, and they were married the following Saturday.
The couple, who live in Madison, Westmoreland County, have three children and two grandchildren.
Like all marriages, it has its challenges, Mrs. Knudson, the former Madison postmaster, said. She joked that one example is when her husband gets in the way in the kitchen and makes a mess.
For Mr. Knudson, a retired salesman, it is all about give and take.
"We have arguments and disagreements, but we always try to work them out. We're bound in our Christian faith, too," he said.
For Valentine's Day, Mrs. Knudson will bake her husband a cherry pie, while Mr. Knudson will likely take her to dinner.
"Her birthday is this week," he said, "so we may have to go out a couple of times."
Consult each other
Lester and Anna Marie Greenawalt met at a church youth meeting and married July 9, 1949.
They live in Russdale and have six children, 16 grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren.
Her secret for an enduring marriage, she said, is working together and the couple's Christian faith.
"We also consult each other for major decisions and the little ones, too," Mrs. Greenawalt, 81, said.
Mr. Greenawalt, 84, had his own piece of advice on how to sustain a longtime union: "Say 'yes, dear.' "
While the most challenging part of their marriage was sharing the grief of two of their children's deaths, the best part was loving each other while not always liking each other, Mrs. Greenawalt said.
"At times, I don't like him, and he probably has the same feeling for me,'' she said.
Mr. Greenawalt, a retired delivery man and maintenance worker, said of a long marriage, "I don't know if there is a hard part."
He spoke of the sacrifices the pair made in their early years, and he had some financial advice for newlyweds.
"We ... had an outhouse outside our small house outside of West Newton," he said. "You can't start out with everything you want money-wise."
When Charles Adamson was about 18, he found reasons to visit the grocery store that was inside the home of Erma Ferraro, with whom he was smitten.
Four years later, the couple eloped on Aug. 25, 1942, keeping the marriage a secret from her corporate employer because, as a married woman, Mrs. Adamson would have lost her job.
Today, the Monroeville couple have three children, five grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.
"Compromise, communication and patience" is the secret to a lasting relationship, Mrs. Adamson, 89, said.
"Having a wife and three daughters made me a good listener," Mr. Adamson, a former railroad crew dispatcher, said of his formula for abiding wedlock.
The most challenging time of their 70 years together, Mrs. Adamson said, was when her husband underwent surgeries during which doctors said they fought to keep him alive.
Other struggles involved finances.
"There was enough money but never any left over," Mr. Adamson, 93, said of their early years.
Their shared focus is what kept them together for almost three-quarters of a century.
"He was a good husband and father," she said.
"She was a good wife and mother," he added.
First Published February 14, 2013 4:54 am