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Family and communication key to lasting love

On Valentine's Day, many people exchange vows of love and devotion. But what is the key to a long lasting relationship? Did Valentine's day always play such an important role in couples' lives? To find out, the Budgeteer visited Edgewood Vista, a...

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Nelda and Bernie St. George hold a picture from their 60th wedding anniversary, five years ago, with all their kids, grandchildren and great grandchildren. (Photo by Teri Cadeau)
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On Valentine's Day, many people exchange vows of love and devotion. But what is the key to a long lasting relationship? Did Valentine's day always play such an important role in couples' lives? To find out, the Budgeteer visited Edgewood Vista, a senior independent living community in Hermantown, to speak with two local couples married for over 65 years.

The traveling St. Georges

"The truth is, we never both wanted a divorce at the same time," said Bernie St. George.

Bernie and his wife Nelda will celebrate their 65th anniversary this summer. The couple met at the Arrow Cafe in Superior in 1950, shortly after Bernie graduated from high school. While Bernie went to work in in the boats on Lake Superior, he and Nelda exchanged love letters. One year after they met, the couple married.

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"We were very young to be getting married. I wasn't yet 16," Nelda said. "And six months later we had our first daughter Marie."

Bernie said his relatives weren't very optimistic for their relationship to last.

"And of course it wouldn't last. My mother and aunts were taking bets on two or three years at the most," Bernie said. "I guess we fooled them!"

After they were married, Bernie went to work for U.S. Steel and Nelda raised their six children. When she was 40, Nelda went back and got her GED and began to work for a newspaper on the Iron Range. When Bernie retired after 43 years with U.S. Steel, the couple sold their house and most of their belongings, bought an RV and took off. They spent the next 10 years traveling to 49 states.

"We missed one state: Idaho. We went from Washington to Montana by way of Alaska and missed Idaho completely," Nelda said.

The traveling together tested the couple's relationship at times.

"But you really know that you like each other if you can travel together in a small space and still make each other laugh," Bernie said.

Through the years, the couple had their share of troubles and turmoil, but Bernie says they always found a way through it.

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Nelda's advice for young couples? "Marry someone you like. Not just love romantically, but genuinely like and respect."

Bernie adds: "Like one another. Take advice from your older relatives, they do know more than you. And don't expect everything to be perfect."

The Bodins

Lifelong Duluthian Donald Bodin met his wife Alyse at work. He was working as a bus driver for Greyhound in 1947. Alyse caught his eye while she worked at the Duluth terminal.

"We started talking, then started going out and decided to get married," Donald said.

"He made me smile," Alyse said. "I liked talking to him."

The couple was married in 1948 at Alyse's parents' house. It was a small wedding with one groomsman and one bridesmaid.

"Not like some of the big weddings you see today. It was simple," Donald said.

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Donald continued to work as a bus driver for 37 years and drove 2.5 million miles. Alyse stayed home with their two daughters and volunteered several days a week at St. Luke's, delivering flowers and cards.

What kept the couple together for all these years?

"You've got to take your relationship seriously. It's not easy all the time," Donald said.

Alyse's answer? "Communication is very important. You have to agree about things like money and family."

Valentine's Day of the past

"You know, I don't remember Valentine's Day being such a big deal when we were younger," Nelda said.

"I don't remember my parents ever celebrating it," Alyse agreed.

Both couples remembered Valentine's Day being a holiday dedicated more to children. Nelda remembers making homemade valentines to distribute to their classmates.

"I think people would have been laughed at if they'd carried on like they do now. Especially married couples because it was a kiddie holiday," Nelda said.

 

 

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Alyse and Donald Bodin hold their wedding picture from 1948. This year the couple will celebrate their 68th wedding anniversary. (Photo by Teri Cadeau)

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