Twin sisters celebrate their golden anniversaries together

Monday, October 1, 2012
Mr. and Mrs. Wayne Ewbank of Cape Girardeau and Mr. and Mrs. Lloyd Claypool of Estes Park, Colo., celebrated their 50th wedding anniversaries by renewing their vows July 8, 2012, in a double ceremony on board a cruise ship to Alaska. (Submitted photo)

When a bride heads down the aisle toward her soon-to-be husband, she has a thousand things running through her mind, but she probably isn't thinking about how she and her husband will spend their 50th wedding anniversary. What a monumental milestone for any married couple to achieve: 50 years together in wedded harmony.

So what is the secret to achieving 50 years together? One Cape Girardeau couple may have the answers. Wayne and Linda Ewbank recently celebrated 50 years of marriage together, but the story gets better. Linda is a twin, and her sister, Donna, also celebrated 50 years of marriage this year with her husband, Lloyd Claypool.

Linda and Wayne have lived in Cape Girardeau for more than 40 years. They came here from Kentucky after Wayne accepted a position as an economics professor at Southeast Missouri State University. Donna lives with her husband Lloyd in Colorado. The Claypools have a business near Linda and Donna's hometown of Clarksville, Ill., and return to the area frequently. Both couples stay connected by traveling together at least three or four times a year.

"We love meeting up at different places," said Linda. "We like to go to Florida at least once a year, but we also like to visit places like Branson, Mo."

The Behner girls met their prospective husbands while growing up in Clarksville. In fact, Linda's husband, Wayne, remembered the day his father came home from work and told him about the town's latest addition: twin girls belonging to the Behner family.

As the Behner girls grew up, they attended school and their local church. The friends they made caused them to continuously cross paths with Wayne and Lloyd.

"We all went to the same church together in this small town," explained Linda. "I was able to get to know Wayne because his sister was my best friend."

Donna and Lloyd had already become an item when Linda started dating Wayne. It was Linda's senior year in high school, and she needed a date to a Valentine's Day event, so she took matters into her own hands and asked Wayne out first. By that time Wayne, who is eight years older than Linda, was already working as a teacher in a nearby community. He gladly accepted the invitation.

"Wayne later told me that asking him out helped break the ice and he felt it was OK to make the next move," said Linda in a joking manner. "But when it came to marriage, he insisted I be at least 20 years old so he didn't feel like he was marrying a teenager!"

1962 was a busy year for Linda and Donna's father. The twins have an older sister, who was married shortly before Linda and Donna. Donna's wedding to Lloyd was in April, a few months before Linda's June wedding. With everyone getting married within months of each other, Linda felt she owed her father a bit of a financial break.

"Our father had already married off two daughters by the time my wedding came around, so I decided to just wear Donna's dress and save him a bit of money," said Linda.

The twins' lifelong connection encompassed more than just sharing a wedding year and a dress. They also expanded their family by each having two children, who in turn gave the twins the same number of grandchildren.

"Both Donna and I ended up having the same number of children, except I had a girl and a boy and Donna had two girls. Then they each had two children, giving us each four grandkids. We never planned any of that; it was just how life worked out for us," said Linda.

Linda says the one thing that has kept her marriage alive and healthy is being respectful of her spouse.

"Marriage is about compromise and communication," said Linda. "Wayne and I couldn't have made 50 years if we didn't put our Lord first, and if we didn't respect and honor each other every day."

Linda and Wayne look forward to celebrating many more years together, but she says one of her greatest memories of her marriage was renewing their vows with Donna and Lloyd while surrounded by all of their children and grandchildren on board a cruise ship in Alaska.

"Marriage in today's society seems so unsteady, and I feel so honored to have shared this special milestone in my life in front of my children and grandchildren," said Linda. "What better example of a solid relationship to set for my family than that?"

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