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County couples offer advice for successful marriage

Published: Friday, Feb. 14, 2014 5:30 a.m. CDT
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(Monica Maschak - mmaschak@shawmedia.com)
Marcia and Bob Dempsey, of Waterman, applaud a speaker during a breakfast for couples married 50 years or longer Thursday at St. Mary's Memorial Hall in Sycamore. The Dempseys have been married for 50 years.

SYCAMORE – A good meal, good fellowship and a lot of laughs were on the menu for the “Celebration of Love” breakfast Thursday at St. Mary’s Memorial Hall.

Attended by more than 60 couples married 50 years or longer, the event was sponsored by DeKalb County Senior Service Providers and supported by area businesses. Participants shared stories of how they met, their first dates and just what makes a successful marriage.

Clarence and Maxine Devine of Cortland have been married 53 years, and Clarence gave a three-word response when asked the secret of a successful marriage: “Love and obey.”

Maxine Devine said she couldn’t improve on that. Although she is his second wife, he was married only two years before the death of his first wife. The Devines – she is from Earlville, he is from DeKalb – got acquainted on the dance floor.

“We square danced, round danced, went to polka dances,” Clarence Devine said. “We were busy. Never let any grass grow under our feet.”

Tom and Barb McCrea of DeKalb were high school sweethearts in Indiana. Married for 62 years, work brought them to DeKalb in 1957.

“We have a wonderful marriage,” Tom McCrea said. “It’s about keeping the other person happy and not thinking you always have to be right.”

For Tony and Alice Whitney, lifelong Sycamore residents married for 54 years, a good marriage is based on more than love.

“We always told our kids that before you could love someone, you had to like and respect them first,” Alice Whitney said.

“I’ll go along with that,” Tony Whitney agreed.

She took the lead early on, inviting him on a hayride during her sophomore year of high school.

“I asked him on our second date, too,” she said. “It just seemed like the right thing to do.”

The right thing for long-married couples to do, urged state Rep. Bob Pritchard, R-Hinckley, is to share with younger generations what makes their marriages successful. Calling them role models, Pritchard said they need to teach others the importance of faith, hope and love.

Pritchard and his wife, Mary, have been married nearly 46 years.

Sycamore Mayor Ken Mundy and his wife, Juanita, have been married for 47 years and he offered three words for a successful marriage: “Let’s eat out.”

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