Haraldsen family photo
Helen and Erling Haraldsen
 Haraldsen family photo
Helen and Erling Haraldsen
Erling and Helen Haraldsen are the 2014 Oregon winners of the Longest Married Couple Project sponsored by Worldwide Marriage Encounter.

The Salem pair was married July 31, 1943.

Marriage Encounter, a faith-based marriage enrichment program begun by Catholics, seeks nominations each year about couples who have stayed together for decades through thick and thin. Leaders of the movement created the project to highlight marriage in America and to show young couples that marriage really can go the distance.

The Haraldsens were honored for their 70 years of married life by Marriage Encounter Feb. 13 at their church, Salem Christian Center.  

After being raised in Buffalo, SD, they were married in 1943 in Denver. Erling worked for Continental Airlines for 45 years. Helen was a secretary and continues to enjoy knitting, baking and cooking. She makes heart pillows for recovering patients. They raised two sons, Gary of Boulder, Colo., and Gene of Independence. They have two grandchildren and one great-grandchild named Heaven.

They have long helped others and made various mission trips. Erling volunteers at the South Salem Senior Center and the Salem Police Department. They are both active at their church.  

The longest married couple in the United States, based on the nominations submitted, is Harold and Edna Owings of Burbank, Calif. The Owings were married Nov. 24, 1931. They met in 5th grade and Harold would bring Edna candy bars at school. If he thought she was annoyed at him he would give her two candy bars.

Worldwide Marriage Encounter has been offering weekend experiences for couples for more than 45 years. The organization also now holds evening and half-day programs that are presented at parishes and other church facilities. The weekend program, traditionally presented as an overnight experience at a hotel or retreat center, can also be presented at facilities where the couples return to their homes in the evenings. Couples and a priest always present at the weekends.

Worldwide Marriage Encounter has a presence in almost 100 countries. In North America, programs are presented in English, Spanish, French and Korean. The sessions offer married couples the chance to spend time together away from the hectic pace of life to focus on each other. Presenters offer tools for building and maintaining a strong, Christian marriage in today’s world.

To learn more about the Worldwide Marriage Encounter weekends online, go to wwme.org or contact the office at (909) 863-9963.