On Aug. 10, Waxahachie residents Leonard and Ione Sullivan will be married just two years shy of three quarters of a century – and they both agreed they would forego the party this year.
“At our 60th anniversary, our children threw a big party for us. The best man and his wife from New York and one of the groomsmen from Montana and one of our best friends for over 65 years were here to help us celebrate,” Ione said.
With Leonard being a native of Cedar Knob, a community near Golthwaite, Texas, and Ione, a native of Clarissa, Minn., the odds were against them getting together. But having moved to 11 different schools prior to the eighth grade, Leonard arrived in Medford, Minn., and, as fate would have it, the two met at a school dance.
“I looked across the room and saw her,” he said. “I thought she was the prettiest girl there – and she’s the only girl I’ve ever had.”
The couple married after graduation from high school and each pursued their higher education: Ione receiving her nurse’s degree in Minneapolis and, in 1938, Leonard received his degree in agriculture education from the University of Minnesota.
He taught agriculture in high school for eight years before going into turkey farming, which led the couple to Waxahachie in 1956, where he worked with the Dewitt Turkey Hatchery and farmed near Maypearl. Later, the couple started the Waxahachie Warehouse.
The couple has four children, Judy, Pat, Mike and Steve; they have five grandchildren, 11 great-grandchildren and four great-great-grandchildren.
In Minnesota and Waxahachie, Leonard was active in the chamber of commerce and has been actively involved in the Rotary Club, serving several different offices, including president of the Waxahachie club in 1977-78. He has also been actively involved in Bethlehem Revisited and served as supervisor of the construction.
The Sullivans have witnessed a number of changes in society during their 73 years of marriage.
“I look back to the way life was back then and then I see the way life is now,” she said. “Back then, life was simple – easy and then it grew more and more complicated.”
The couple remembers horse and buggy days, the Depression years and several wars.
As for hobbies and pastimes, the couple enjoyed traveling, having seen most of the world, including London, England; Manila, Republic of the Philippines; and Germany.
“We’ve been on every continent except for Africa,” Leonard said.
Leonard, 96, and Ione, 95, spend most of their days at their Waxahachie home, where a full time caregiver assists them.
The couple is content with their arrangement and grateful they planned well for their golden years.
“I’m thankful we’re able to stay in our home and are not in a (healthcare center),” Leonard said. “I took out home healthcare insurance early in life.”
Asked what their secret is to a long, happy marriage, Ione’s answer was quick and to the point.
“There’s no secret – a couple just has to work hard at it if they want a good marriage,” she said.
Contact Paul at email@example.com or 469-517-1450.