So Kester and her husband, Eugene, held a double wedding alongside Brown and her significant other, LeeRoy, on Dec. 11, 1954.
"We grew up together, and we thought it only made sense," Kester said.
The couples celebrated another romantic event together Friday at the 33rd annual Schnucks and KZIM Valentine's Day party for couples married at least 50 years. Held at the Arena Building, the party drew about 230 couples for a morning full of music and trivia from 1960, pastries and recognition of couples, including those married the longest and with the most grandchildren.
Lloyd and Ruth Francis of Oran, Mo., were among the three couples tied for being married the longest at 71 years. They were recognized last year as the couple wed the most years.
Ruth Francis said selecting the right mate is one secret to a long-lasting marriage.
"We met at church, which is the best place to find the best one," Francis said. "We've enjoyed our time together and look forward to what lies ahead."
Vince and Peggy Raddle of Cape Girardeau will celebrate their 60th anniversary April 22. Peggy Raddle, who met her husband during her sophomore year at high school in Doniphan, Mo., said that too often in society people aren't committed to long-term marriages.
"I tell people that you have to realize you're making a lifelong commitment," Raddle said. "It's been more than I thought it would be."
Dennis Marchi, manager of Schnucks, said that in a day when divorces are common, couples such as the ones at the party are proof that marriage still is sacred to some.
"Even though we have divorces in America, there are still people committed to marriage," Marchi said. "And that speaks a lot about the values that people have in this area."
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