Five decades of matrimony: Not just one but four Fulton brothers and their wives have been married at least 50 years

Monday, May 3, 2010

Gerry and Shelbia Lee Fulton of Farmington, Mo., have been married 50 years. Their wedding ceremony took place at Crossroads Church of God in St. Francois County. Jim and Mary Jane Yamnitz Fulton have been married 54 years; Bill and Lena Mae Hahn Fulton 56 years, and Bob and Maxine Heitman Fulton 57 years. The latter three couples were all married at Reagan's Chapel United Methodist Church in Patton, Mo., and still live on farms near that church. TBY spoke to all four couples about the success of their marriages.


Gerry and Shelbia were introduced by a cousin of Shelbia's, who was also a friend of Gerry's at a church picnic; Bob and Maxine's parents were neighbors when the two were youngsters. Their first memory of each other is from the time Maxine enrolled in the second grade at the Heitman one-room school in northern Bollinger County. Bob was a fourth-grader. Jim and Mary Jane grew up close together. Although they saw each other at various events during their early years, they don't remember taking a second look at each other before high school. They became high school sweethearts at Patton High School. Mary Jane was a cheerleader and Jim played several sports. Bill and Lena met at a church picnic at Hahn's Grove in Yount, Mo., in 1952. All four couples have children and grandchildren. Bob and Maxine and Jim and Mary Jane have great-grandchildren.


Gerry worked for 40 years at McDonnell-Douglas Aircraft in St. Louis and Shelbia helped rear three sons and volunteered. Bob taught in one-room rural schools, went into the Army for two years, then worked for the federal government, followed by other jobs. Maxine was a bookkeeper for two years then became wife, mother and grandmother. Jim worked for 20 years in residential and commercial construction in the St. Louis area and 12 years in Southeast Missouri. He also taught construction trades at Meadow Heights High School for four years and has farmed. Mary Jane was a homemaker, restaurant operator and worked in the dietician department at Perry County Hospital for 10 years. Bill has been a lifelong farmer and Lena May taught school for 50 years.

All four couples reminisced about wonderful events in their lives. Although they have different gifts and skills, their marriages and the births of their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren were most important. Having the support of family and meaningful relationships followed.


Here's what each couple said was the secret to their marriage:

* Bill and Lena Mae: Bill said, "We took our marriage vows seriously. We respect each other's occupations and opinions." Lena Mae said, "Bill met the standards I set long ago for my future husband: a farmer who didn't drink or smoke and would take me to school when it snowed."

* Gary and Shelbia: "There is no secret. It's an ongoing day-by-day trust in Jesus and striving to live by biblical principles. By God's grace we have a wonderful family and wonderful life together."

* Bob and Maxine: "True love, trust and faithfulness to each other, mutual commitment to Christ and willingness to work through problems."

* Jim and Mary Jane: "Faith in God and participation in church had a large role in our life's journey together. One of our favorite sayings is, 'Any job worth doing is worth doing well.' This applies to our marriage as well as the rest of our lives."

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