By Sandra Birungi
He used to drive her to school and she decided to show her committment to him by eloping to get married to him when her parents arranged another man to marry her. That is the life of the longest married couple in the US according to Worldwide Marriage Encounter which sets out to search and award couples which have stayed long in their marriages.
At 101 years and Ann at 97, the Baters got married in 1932 and have five children, 14 grandchildren and 16 great-grandchildren. They were chosen out of 297 nominations collected between October 2012 to January 2013 for the award. They have become an inspiration to their children, grand children and great grand children.
“They are wonderful, generous, compassionate and good-humored,” their granddaughter, Heather Mitchell said. “The way they deal with life’s blessings and tragedies with such grace is one of the things that impresses me the most about them.”
Talking about their love, John Betar said, “It’s quite an honor, but I don’t know what it’s for.” Granddaughter Mitchell went on to add saying, “Their humility is impressive. They don’t think they are unique or special. They think ‘Everyone in our day got married this young,’ and they don’t see how special they are as everyone around them does. It adds to their charm.”
“They were going against all odds,” said Renee Betar, one of the couple’s daughters said. Talking about her mother’s decision to run away, Renee said it was difficult, but the right one “when there’s no other way but love.”
The couple says there is no secret to maintaining a long marriage, “We just live with contentment and we don’t live beyond our means,” said John Betar. “Just go with the flow.”