Henderson marriage: 75 years and counting

William “Ken” Kenneth and Ruth “Jerry” Geraldine Boswell forgot their marriage license on their wedding day on Aug. 31, 1940, so they jumped in their 1937 Graham-Paige so they could go home and retrieve it.

On their way on a bridge that crossed over the Mississippi River in Palmyra, Ill., they had to pay a 50-cent fare to cross, which, according to Jerry, was expensive since it was only a year after the Great Depression ended.

“I asked (the toll man) if I had to pay coming back the other way,” Ken said. “The guy said if it wasn’t worth the extra 50 cents that I better stay single.”

Monday marks the Henderson couple’s 75th wedding anniversary.

“When you first get married you’re strangers and it takes a while to learn what each of you should be doing,” Ken said. “We’ve been very fortunate because we always figured things out and never had any real problems.”

Two years after getting married, Ken and Jerry moved to Los Gatos, Calif.

“I had no trouble finding a job in California but my wife doesn’t like to live in an apartment and she wanted a home right away,” he said. “She saw a house being built nearby and one night when I came home from work she said that the house was for sale. I told her we couldn’t afford a house and we argued a little bit about this. Finally she said, ‘You either buy me that house or I’m going back to Illinois.’ Needless to say she got her house.”

“I worked the same way on three or four other houses and I got them, too,” Jerry said with a laugh.

In 1943, Ken enlisted in the Navy and served until the end of World War II before being called back to duty in the 1950s to fight in the Korean War.

During his deployments, Jerry worked odd jobs to bring in income as they had adopted a son, Gary, before having their daughter years later.

“I washed and ironed for other people and worked as a waitress many times while he was gone,” Jerry said. “Anything to bring in a little money.”

According to Ken, Jerry was the one who had it rough in the relationship.

“She was home living on government subsidies, which is almost starvation, and I couldn’t send any money because what I made in the Navy wasn’t worth anything either,” he said. “How she got through that, I’ll never know, but she did.”

Jerry’s reason for sticking around is simple.

“It was terrible, it really was, but I love him and that’s always been my reason for staying,” she said.

Kelly Evans, the couple’s daughter, said their relationship has taught her a lot about marriage.

“As their daughter I was taught that you don’t walk away from a marriage if it gets difficult; you’ve got to fight through it because it’s definitely worth it,” she said. “This day and age, people are getting married older and may not have the opportunity to make it to 75 years.”

Robert D. Young, director of the Gerontology Research Group’s Supercentenarian Research and Database Division, a group that is dedicated to reversing human aging and tracking people who are at least 110 years old, said the all-time record of marriage is 86 years.

Zelmyra and Herbert Fisher of James City, N.C., held that record before both passing away at 105 years old in 2013 and 2011, respectively.

“Seventy-five years is rare, but it happens every year somewhere,” Young said. “Others have claimed longer, but don’t have proof.”

According to Ken, there’s no secret to staying married for 75 years.

“It comes down to compatibility and being able to work things out between the two of you,” he said.

Jerry added, “We always worked together on everything and when there were any problems we’d talk it out and put it behind us.”

When asked what celebrating their 75th wedding anniversary means to them, Jerry, 95, said, “How much longer can I go on?”

To which, Ken, 94, responded, “It’s gotta go on for a couple more years.”

Contact Ann Friedman at afriedman@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-4588. Find her on Twitter: @AnnFriedmanRJ

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