Persistence really does pay off.
Just ask Bob and Gwen Godkin, of Addison Township.
For Bob, it was love at first sight.
He pointed to Gwen, sitting on the other side of the gym during an Oxford High School basketball game, and announced to his mother, “That’s the girl I’m going to marry.”
“She was very pretty,” he explained. “I liked the way she dressed. Her mother made all her clothes. I liked her a lot.”
Gwen’s feelings weren’t so cut-and-dried.
“I came home from our first date and told my dad I’m never going out with him again,” she said.
But Bob didn’t give up and ultimately, he married Gwen on April 28, 1956 at the Oxford United Methodist Church.
This week, the couple will celebrate their 60th anniversary, a milestone not many married folks achieve these days.
So, what’s the secret?
“I’ve thought about this for a long time . . . You have to like each other,” Bob said. “The love is there, but the liking, I think, is more important.”
For Gwen, who was born and raised in Oxford, it’s about being congenial, easy to get along with and willing to let things go.
“It’s not easy living with a Godkin,” she said.
Bob didn’t disagree.
“I admit I’m kind of opinionated,” he said. “I have my own way of doing things. I get that from one of my grandmothers.”
The Godkins met in high school while both were part of the cast for the senior play. Bob was a senior and Gwen was a freshman.
At the time, Gwen was sweet on another fella, so Bob did his best to eliminate the competition.
“I thought he was a real wimp,” Bob said. “I was always ragging on her about that.”
Fortunately, Bob had an automatic in with Gwen’s dad.
“He played football and you had to play football to date me. That was my father’s rule,” she said.
To win over Gwen’s mom, Bob used his grandmother’s large flower garden.
“Every time I had a date with Gwen, I had my grandmother cut me a big bouquet of fresh flowers and I’d take them to her mother,” he said. “Her mother really got to like me.”
“I was kind of sneaky,” he added.
Fortunately for Bob, Gwen came around and started to like him, too.
“He was just a nice guy,” she said.
Like soon blossomed into love.
And that love continued to grow after Bob graduated from OHS in 1952 and enlisted in the U.S. Coast Guard two years later. Though he was stationed in Long Island, New York, he remained true to her and she to him.
“I was always glad to come home to see her,” Bob said.
After they married in 1956, they lived together on Long Island for two years while Bob completed his active-duty service.
They returned to Michigan and in 1959, settled on some property along Lakeville Rd., just east of Hosner Rd., and built a life.
They’re still there today.
“I like to say that I’ve lived on Lakeville Rd. for 81 years,” said Bob, who’s 82 years old. “Not in the same place, but I’ve always had a Lakeville Rd. address.”
After his father died, he and his mother moved from Ferndale to a farm on Lakeville Rd.
Bob earned his living at the General Motors plant in Pontiac and spent 25 years there.
Gwen, a 1955 OHS graduate, was the secretary at Clear Lake Elementary School from 1966-99.
“I’ll never know how she did that job,” Bob said. “She’d be talking on the telephone, there’d be some teacher in (the office) wanting something, there’d be an irate parent in there and there’d be some kid throwing up in a waste basket.”
The Godkins have two daughters, Kim and Amy; three grandchildren, David, Austin and Anton; and one great-grandson named Easton.
The whole Godkin clan is planning to gather in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee to celebrate Bob and Gwen’s diamond anniversary.
To Bob, it doesn’t matter where they go or what they do, as long as everybody is together in one place, he’s a happy man.
The Godkins are active members of the Lakeville Cemetery Auxiliary and Bob is a member of Oxford American Legion Post 108. He spent a total of eight years in the Coast Guard, four years on active duty and four years as a reservist.
The Oxford Leader hopes the Godkins enjoy their 60th anniversary and celebrate many more in the years to come.