The Carters now.
The Carters now.
Love. It’s what keeps couples together – some longer than others. For a handful of husbands and wives in parishes across the state, that length of time spans many decades.

This year, Worldwide Marriage Encounter, a faith-based marriage enrichment program, has set out to recognize the longest married couple in the United States, as well as in each state.

Several months ago, the organization began soliciting nominations from across the country.

Three couples featured here have been together for many years and share stories of their romantic early years and how they’ve fostered the love in their relationship.

Ed and Marion Carter


He was 24 and she was 19. Marion had a date to go to a dance with a friend, and he brought along his buddy. Instead of dancing with her date (Marion assures they were just friends) she spun around the floor to nearly every song with the friend of her date, Ed.

Three days later, they decided to get married. Their wedding day was Sept. 14, 1940.  
“I liked his kisses and his dancing,” Marion confessed.

They moved to Longview, then Sweet Home, and finally to Albany two decades ago. In the meantime, the couple raised seven children. They’re parishioners at St. Mary Church.

For their 70th anniversary, the Carters’ family rented them a limousine, which whisked them off to a dinner with all of their kids, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and even two great-great-grandchildren – 62 people all told. The family, en masse, sang a song called, “We are All Shaped by Your Love.”

In their later years, Ed and Marion took annual trips to Arizona in their motor home.
“We had our ups and downs,” Marion said. “But one or the other always said ‘I’m sorry.’”

Robert and Jeanne Shoemaker


Growing up, it seemed like Robert had always been there.

Jeanne’s family moved to Scappoose when she was 9, when she befriended 11-year-old Robert. They went to grade school together, then high school. They were neighbors.

And they’ve stayed close ever since.

After leaving to go to college, Robert came home one summer and started dating Jeanne. The married July 5, 1942, before Robert was drafted into the Army.

They married at St. Stephen’s in Portland when she was 19 and he was 21. Jeanne said the priest in their town at the time wouldn’t marry them because he “thought it wouldn’t last” on account of Robert not being a Catholic.

“I think that’s kind of funny,” said Jeanne, who has marked her 50th, then 60th anniversaries with her husband. Soon it will be their 70th.

After Robert came home from the service, he built a home for the family where they’ve lived in for 63 years. Robert and Jeanne are often found working out in their large yard, they take pride in. 
“We’re a really close family,” Jeanne said. “We did everything as a family.”

There were many special occasions celebrated at their house in Scappoose, but every day was precious for Jeanne and Robert.

“They were all special moments,” Jeanne said.

Hank and Elsie Drexel

North Plains

The secret to a lasting marriage for the Drexels is never going to bed angry at each other and saying “I love you” every night.

In the early 1940s, Elsie worked as a waitress. Hank was on leave from the Navy and went home to stay with his good friend’s family. The two young men visited the diner where Elsie was their server.

“Right away I asked her out on a date but she said no,” Hank said. “But I wasn’t going to leave without a date, so I stayed there and ordered more until she gave in.”

Elsie’s caveat was that, before they went out to dinner, she had to go to church. He asked if he could come along.

“She was the only girl I wanted,” Hank said. They married Sept. 12, 1944, in California. They went to Lake Arrowhead, California. But all of their years together have been memorable, they said.

Over the years their relationship has grown stronger. They never miss a Sunday Mass, these days they’re parishioners of St. Edward Church. They had three kids, six grandchildren and two great-grandchildren, one born and one on the way.

“If you decide to get married, you have to put both of your lives together,” the couple advised. “Just like God said, ‘One flesh,’ and not try to live two separate lives.”