Through the years.

Louise and Bud snug on their living room couch. They will celebrate 74 years of marriage this August. Photo by J. Hanlon.

Local couples share their wisdom of love

Love is in the air. This Friday, Feb. 14, is the day lovers share their emotions for each other by exchanging cards, giving candies, and gifts and sharing fancy meals.
According to Britannica.com, “The holiday has origins in the Roman festival of Lupercalia, held in mid-February. The festival, which celebrated the coming of spring, included fertility rites and the pairing off of women with men by lottery. At the end of the fifth century, Pope Gelasius I replaced Lupercalia with St. Valentine’s Day.”
To help celebrate Valentine’s this year, The Leader asked local couples who have been married a “long time” (50 years or more) for advice. We asked, how did they do it? And, how did they stay together so long?

Bud and Louise Ryckman
Bud and Louise Ryckman were married in Oxford on August 3, 1946. That means they have been married 73 and one half years.
They retired and moved up north for 25 years before returning to Oxford in 2014 to be close to their son. They have two children, one granddaughter, and two great-grandsons. “We’re not a big family.” Louise said.
They don’t see their marriage as exceptional, “that’s just the way it is.”
“When we got married,” Louise explained, “people didn’t just decide they didn’t want to be married anymore and get a divorce. It wasn’t that simple then. Not that we would try to. It just wasn’t then the way it is now.
“The main thing is, I guess you got to marry someone who doesn’t argue with you. I do the arguing, he does the listening.”
Bud nodded. “Keep your mouth shut. You’re only supposed to speak one at a time. Don’t forget that.”
“It would have been nice to have someone to argue with once in a while,” Louise joked.
Being married so long “hasn’t been a problem,” Bud said. “It’s kind of nice to think about it.”

Lester and Thelma Maher

The Mahers. Photo provided.

Lester and Thelma Maher have been married for nearly 70 years. “Wow, 70 years. Phew. That’s a long time,” Thelma said. “That’s almost as old as I am.” She’s 86. She was 17 when they were married; Lester was 25. “That’s a big difference,” she said, “but he babied me, he took good care of me.”
Lester served in the Navy aboard the USS Pierce in World War II. That’s where he became best friends with Cliff, Thelma’s brother. Lester and Thelma met after the war, and were married on July 15, 1950 in Southern California.
They had a quiet wedding in a church just down the street from where they lived. “My Mom held both of our hands walking down to the church and back home to the house again,” she recalled. “We didn’t have a big wedding or anything.” It was just Thelma’s mother, her brother Cliff (the best man), and her school friend Doris (the maid of honor).
They honeymooned in Ensenada, Mexico.
Over the next twenty years they moved back and forth from California to Royal Oak, where Lester is from. In 1972 they bought land in Oxford where they built themselves the house they are still living in.
“It’s not finished yet,” Lester said, half serious.
“I think it’s pretty well finished.” Thelma said.
Despite her years of experience, Thelma was hesitant to offer relationship advice.
“I don’t know, he’s put up with me for all those years.”
“Well, you put up with me,” Lester countered. “If it wasn’t for you, I wouldn’t be here. She straightened me out you know. I got out of the Navy, I was drinking.” She helped him quit. “Now I don’t even touch it.”
Lester had a unique tip: “The best thing you can do is get up, have a cup of coffee and have some love. Drink your coffee and get a kiss.”
He had more traditional advice too, “Don’t ever go to bed mad. Always make up before you go to bed.”
“We had a good time, had a good life. Can’t complain,” Lester said.
Thelma agreed. “We’ve been healthy. We’ve had beautiful children. Don’t take me wrong, we used to fight cat and dog. I was a spoiled brat.” But they took care of each other and their family.
They have four children, eight grandchildren and four greatgrandchildren.
“They are the true definition of true love,” said Kristin Grifka, one of the grandchildren. “They’ve been together for the majority of their lives they still look at each other like newlyweds. They are soulmates.”
Looking forward to their 70th, they’ve already invited a lot of people, including the entire Legion Post. “We’re gonna have a pig roast,” Lester said. “As long as we still have two feet on the ground.” They’ve had pig roasts at prior major anniversaries where “everyone enjoyed them, so that’s what we’ll do.”

Charles and Maureen Schram

The Schrams. Photo provided.

This Valentine’s Day, Mr. and Mrs. Charles and Maureen Schram will have been married for 58 years. They had a simple, lovely wedding on Feb. 10, 1962 at St. Michael’s Catholic Church in Pontiac, Michigan.
Together, they have two wonderful children: Mark and Rodney. They also have four grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.
Their advice for a long and happy marriage is to talk everything out, trust and love one another and never go to bed without kissing each other goodnight.

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