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For the past seven decades, Betty has been Vernon’s Valentine.
And for those same 70 years, Vernon has been Betty’s Valentine.
This year, Betty and Vernon Schwarck will be celebrating with chimichangas at El Azteca.
“I guess when we were first married he would get me a heart-shaped box of candy or flowers, but that hasn’t been for years,” Betty said.
The 89-year-olds lived a simple life through the years, she said.
That simple life may just be what kept their love so strong, Betty remarked.
“We never had a whole lot of money, but we always got along,” Betty said.
She said Vernon always believed if they didn’t have the money for something they didn’t need it. The family farm, which is where they made their business, was the only thing the couple went in debt for over the years.
“We had some lean years, but it turned out OK,” Betty said.
To help, Betty made everything she could herself — curtains, dresses and clothes for the whole family.
“Debt can ruin your life,” Vernon said. “It causes a lot of separations. We tried to take it easy.”
They also never stayed mad.
“We got each other told off and that was it,” Betty said noting they can tell each other their irritations then they drop the issue.
Vernon said they never held a grudge.
In some ways, bickering is how they flirt, family members said.
The couple, who celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary on Jan. 5, was married in a small ceremony at First English Lutheran Church a few months after becoming engaged.
Betty wore a blue dress she bought special for the occasion. Vernon wore a pin-striped, three-piece suit. Their attendants were long-time friends, Jean and Norman Kantner, who lived down the road. Because the bride was 18-years-old, her parents had to sign for her.
“We had no money to have a big wedding,” Betty said, explaining that when they started out they had $137 between them. “What we had then people wouldn’t even think about trying to start out with now.”
Neither could say what it was in particular about the other that told them this was the one, but Vernon said they were together enough to know that they liked each other’s companionship.
They knew each other back in high school, but they didn’t go together until after graduation.
“We always did everything together,” Vernon said. “That’s the way it stayed through the years.”
Even when Vernon was farming, Betty was right alongside him doing whatever needed done. If she worked the ground, then he planted.
While Betty grew up in the city, it didn’t take long for her to get a taste of the farm life and to do everything she could to help out with the family’s steer and hogs, wheat, corn and soybeans.
“I always did like it outside,” said Betty, who was known for her tan and still mows her own grass, but now at a ranch they built rather than the old farm house, which had steps that were getting to be too much to handle. “I did everything the rest of them did.”
The only time they have been apart through the years is when one of them was sick or in the hospital.
“Where one of us went, the other went, too,” Betty said, explaining that even though they never did anything real exciting in their lives, they enjoyed every moment.
In their later years, the Schwarks took family vacations to Florida and Texas, traveled with their senior citizens group, and frequented antique malls and flea markets. They often made trips to West Virginia to purchase Fenton glass, maybe more than they should have, Betty said, pointing to cabinets overflowing with beautiful baskets in every color imaginable.
Now, they talk to their children and grandchildren and visit with those who live close by, as well as neighbors and their pastor. Unfortunately, only one of the older couples they were friends with remains.
Betty knits, but Vernon said he never had time to pick up a hobby. Together they watch game shows at home throughout the day.Vernon also still listens for the grain reports.
“Up until a couple years ago, this one (Vernon) would talk this one (Betty) into driving to Indiana to get candy or peanuts,” their granddaughter, Holly Hut, said of the little excursions her grandparents enjoy.
“Now a big trip for them is to the Lucky Steer or Kewpee,” Hut said.
Vernon said for “big entertainment” they go to the Western Sizzlin Steakhouse, in Lima.
Betty said they just like to get out and go somewhere.
It’s a lot different than their first date, when they didn’t go anywhere.
“He picked me up and took me home,” Betty said.
She said back then no one had a lot of money, so they didn’t do too much on dates.
“When we went together for a little bit, she got her engagement ring,” Vernon said.
Smiling the whole way through telling the story, Vernon said the summer before they were married, his parents wanted to go to the Auglaize County Fair, so Vernon and Betty went, too. After a picnic of fried chicken and potato salad on a blanket at the fairgrounds, his parents went to watch the horse races and Vernon and Betty took off toward Lima to get her an engagement ring.
Vernon doesn’t remember his parents saying too much to them when they got back and he still laughs about the blond he traded in for Betty.
“She’s plain got me over a barrel now, I’ve got no where to go,” Vernon said.
Hut said from her grandparents she learned patience.
“They have been a good example,” Hut said. “They are very, very generous people, very kindhearted.
“They have taken care of all of us when we needed it,” she said. “They have been there for everybody in the family, as well as neighbors. They were constant caregivers.”
The Schwarcks have three children, Judy McCormick, John Schwarck and Marcil Painter, who is deceased; five grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren.
Wiping tears from his eyes, Vernon said, “We have been well blessed to get these kind of years — our age, the years we have been married.
“We never had too many problems did we mom?” he affectionately asked his wife.
“Too many other people never got to have this,” Vernon said. “I don’t know why in the devil we were blessed so well.”
Smiling, Betty said she tells Vernon she is going to stick around and aggravate him as long as she can, which could be quite a while, as her mother’s side of the family lives a long time.
“Still when we go to bed at night, we hold hands when we go to sleep,” Vernon said.
“Every night I go to bed, I thank the Lord I have a good wife,” Vernon said.
Betty thanks him for being a good husband.