Love and humor lead to 72 years of marriage

MALTA - About 74 years ago, Robert Harrison's high school crush, Beulah, better known as Boots, passed him a note on the school bus saying she couldn't see him anymore.

Instead, Robert and Boots celebrated their 72nd wedding anniversary in June.

Boots wanted to have a relationship with Robert in high school, but her father ordered her not to see Robert anymore. Robert didn't follow orders and came walking up Boots' driveway when her father saw him and went out to stop him. The two talked for a few minutes before Boots' father came inside and told her she could go on a double date with Robert.

A double date is usually a good way to take the pressure off on a first date, unless you go on a double date with your date's parents.

When Robert, 91, and Boots, 89, went on their first date, Robert was sitting in the front seat with her father and Boots was in the back with her mother. Nearly two years passed before Robert was able to take Boots on a date without her parents, but he said it was worth the wait.

Robert and Boots got married June 26, 1944, and they have been there for each other ever since. After getting married, Boots dropped out of Homer Union High School to be with her new husband.

"I finished my junior year of high school, and then the love bug bit me, and that was it," Boots said.

In their 72 years together, they went through a number of good times and bad times. However, the bad times were never too bad because Boots could always make Robert laugh with her sense of humor.

The couple had their only child, Bobbi, in 1945. When Bobbi was 6, she fell out of the car Boots was driving, and Boots ran over her. Bobbi didn't suffer any injuries, but she had a tire mark across her back.

"I always mark my territory," Boots joked.

Boots said her favorite memory from their marriage happened on June 30, 1945, which the day Bobbi was born.

Robert and Boots were there to support each other for everything life threw at them, including battles with cancer.

When Boots was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1998, Robert said he was there for Boots to do anything she needed. He didn't want Boots to be alone during her battle with cancer, and she never was.

In 1999, Robert was diagnosed with bladder cancer, and the two were able to defeat cancer together by leaning on each other for strength.

To this day, Robert and Boots do everything together, except for sleep in the same room. Boots is unable to get into the bed Robert sleeps in because it's too high off the ground. However, Boots didn't let Robert sleep truly sleep alone. They have a baby monitor in both their rooms so Robert can hear any noise she makes.

"I run my mouth all the time. It hasn't slowed down, and he has to listen," Boots said. "Robert, I love you, you really had to put up with a lot."

If you ask Robert and Boots how they were able to make their marriage work for 72 years, they won't have an answer. They didn't have the secret to make a marriage work; they were, and still are, truly in love. If times were tough, they got through them by being there for each other.

Robert advised young couples to not be selfish and truly care about the other person to work through any problem.

Robert and Boots were honored in Malta's bicentennial parade earlier this month for being the couple with the longest-lasting marriage in the village.

It's no surprise to Bobbi that the couple have been married for 72 years. She said she was just happy her parents didn't go on her first dates like Boots' parent did.

"They're devoted to each other and that's what marriage is all about," Bobbi said. "They don't expect anything out of return. They do it out of love."


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