“I would not wish any companion in the world but you” A quote from “The Tempest” by William Shakespeare
With Valentine’s Day as the backdrop for many couples this month, we might tend to think that this special day of hearts and roses is reserved for youth. But you don’t have to be young to be in love. Couples can celebrate this special day who have been together for years, many years…in fact many, many years!
While contacting and compiling a list of people over the age of 100 in the Elderbridge service area, we came across this couple, Roy and Mabel Welch of Northwood. With nearly 78 years of marriage, the Welches are one of the oldest and most enduring couples living in the state of Iowa. Roy, 101 years old and Mabel, 102, have been married since March of 1939.
It was several years after prohibition had ended and alcohol was now legal again, but the get-together where they met was still called the Kensett Bootlegger’s Convention. Roy, was a beer salesman at the time and was delivering to the Kensett Tavern for the event. There he spied Mabel standing in the doorway of the tavern which was owned by Mabel’s sister. Seeing her and thinking “Gee, she’s an attractive girl” he started up a conversation. Mabel said she felt Roy was “pretty nice” and “very polite” when they first met. They spent the rest of that day getting to know one another a little better, were married within months and have been together ever since. In those nearly 8 decades, they have been through a lot, having had each other to love and share the adventures of life with.
The Welches lived in Spencer, Iowa for a year before moving to Algona, then to Mason City and Burlington for a year each while Roy worked. During World War Two they both helped in the war effort, working at the Iowa Ordinance plant. Later the couple found themselves living in Canada for a while to help look after loved ones following a death in Mabel’s family. Soon Roy and Mabel started their own family by adopting a son.
The couple have traveled all over the United States. They proudly say they’ve been to every state in the Union except Maine. They even took the opportunity to break in their new 1980 Oldsmobile on a trip along the Alaska Highway some 30 odd years ago. Well, that old Olds may be used up and worn out by now, but not the affection Roy and Mabel still have for each other!
Today Roy and Mabel live together in Northwood and say they are still very happy and in love. Mabel says one of the many things they’ve learned over the years was to never talk angrily to one another. Over these many, many years they have had each other, and are all the happier for it.
“True love can never grow old. Locks of hair may lose their brown and gold. Cheeks may fade and hollow grow. But hearts that love will never know winters frost and chill, only summer’s warmth is in them still.” - Leo Buscaglia
By Andrew Buenger-Elderbridge Agency on Aging Community Outreach Assistant