How to stay married 82 years? ‘Keep busy but stay happy’
He would bring candy bars to school for her, where they met in the fifth grade.
Harold Owings was always sweet on Edna, and his perseverance so impressed her that when she was 19 and he was 20 she married him 82 years ago on Nov. 24, 1931.
Harold, 102, and Edna, 101, were honored Feb. 14 as Worldwide Marriage Encounter’s 2014 Longest Married Couple Project Winners in a ceremony attended by family members and WWME leaders at Bellarmine-Jefferson High School’s Eleanor Hall in Burbank.
The couple achieved the honor of being the Longest Married Couple based on nearly 300 nominations submitted to WWME from all across the country beginning in October of last year until the project ended on Jan. 10.
“We realize there could be couples married longer, but we did not receive their nominations from friends or family during the nominating period,” said Ron and Judy Pekny, WWME’s U.S. Ecclesial Team couple from Fort Worth, Texas.
“It is with great pride that we are here today to recognize your truly extraordinary 82 years of marriage,” said Judy. “We are so thankful of the commitment that you have been to each other and for being such a visible sign of the power of love that a man and woman have in the precious gift God gave us in marriage.
“Scripture tells us that is why a man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife and the two of them become one [flesh]. What a remarkable union you brought about 82 years ago when you exchanged your vows on Thanksgiving Day. We can only imagine how many lives have been blessed by witnessing your relationship through the years.”
The Peknys presented the Owings with several commendations and gifts, including a congratulatory proclamation from Burbank’s mayor, a Bible for the Christian couple, a swan figurine and a musical egg lighthouse.
“Harold and Edna, you are a lighthouse, a sign of hope for couples who can’t quite find the safety of the shore amid so many storms in their lives,” said Ron. “You show us that not only can we find safety, we can also find joy, the joy of an 82-year voyage, side-by-side with the love of your life. May this lighthouse offer hope to all who follow you on their own journey of marriage and faithful love.”
“It doesn’t seem like it’s been that long to us at all,” said Edna, who offered words of advice for a lasting marriage. “Keep busy but stay happy. We’ve been happy. We plan things together and we never thought of getting angry or yelling at each other. If you love each other enough to get married, it’s nice to feel like you really belong to someone.
“We are as much in love now as we were when we got married,” she continued. “We’ve never had a lot of money, but we’ve never wanted anything we couldn’t afford, so we’ve never been frustrated or aggravated over anything. We had two wonderful children (now deceased) [and] a loving family [of] four grandchildren and eight great grandchildren and they’re all doing well.”
“I never remember having an argument with Edna and it lasting overnight,” added Harold. “I always believed that she has a right to her opinion and I have a right to my opinion and we both express our opinions to each other and we leave it that way and eventually we find out which one is right.”
Karl Schneider, the Owings’ 22-year-old great grandson among several relatives attending the event, said his great grandparents’ “everlasting love” and the fact that they settle disagreements within 24 hours have made a big impression on him.
“Their marriage has been something I’ve always looked up to as the ideal marriage,” said Schneider. “I kind of set my standards based on them.”
WWME, the original faith-based marriage enrichment program with a presence in almost 100 countries, has been offering weekend experiences in the U.S. for over 45 years. Upcoming local weekends are scheduled in Chatsworth (Feb. 28-March 2) and Palmdale (April 25-27).