The Kiwanis Club of Medina celebrated the 50th wedding anniversaries of 14 Medina County couples at a luncheon Thursday at Williams on the Lake.
The annual Golden Wedding Anniversary Luncheon is a longstanding Kiwanis tradition.
“We’ve been hosting the luncheon every year for as long as I can remember,” Kiwanis event chairperson Joan Rundle said.
Bob Toth, a member of the Medina County Fair Board, said he knew how long: “This is the 50th year for this event.”
Toth presented each of the couples with a gift that is given to each year’s honorees — lifetime passes to the county fair.
Kiwanis invited the couples by checking anniversary announcements in local newspapers and through recommendations from members. This year’s honorees all were married between July 1, 1963, and June 30, 1964.
Before enjoying a buffet lunch and vanilla strawberry cake, several couples took the time to reflect on the longevity of their marriages.
Medina residents Robert and Joellyn Leget met in their small hometown in southeastern Ohio.
Now retired, Robert taught chemistry and earth science at Buckeye Schools. Joellyn taught elementary students at Garfield and Ella Canavan schools. They have a son, Jeff, who lives in Colorado.
“The secret to a good marriage is to find that one person who will eat the food you don’t like,” Joellyn said with a laugh. “If we’re having salad in a restaurant, I give him the onions and he gives me the olives and cucumbers. Find someone who will trade food with you.”
When asked if Robert had advice for young couples about to be married, he simply said: “Don’t!”
Joellyn laughed at his response.
“That’s the secret,” Robert said. “A sense of humor and tolerance.”
Charles and Marlene Lavan of Montville Township first met at the drugstore where Charles worked.
“I was a soda jerk,” he said, “I bet most people won’t know what that was.”
“He made me a chocolate soda,” Marlene said, “but I had asked for a cherry soda.”
“And she’s never let me forget it,” Charles said, laughing.
The couple met again when Charles drove his sister and Marlene to a St. Edward/St. Ignatius football game.
“I told my best friend that Charles was the boy I was going to marry,” Marlene said, “so I had to marry him. I didn’t want to lie to my best friend!”
The couple has four children: Greg, Kelly, Vykke and Krissy, plus 11 grandchildren.
Marlene was a homemaker until her youngest child entered third grade. Then she worked in real estate. Charles was a mechanical engineer. Both are retired now. They recently returned from trips to Alaska and Hawaii, and are planning a trip to the Mediterranean.
“The secret to a good marriage is to always respect one another,” Marlene said. “Don’t lie, be truthful and communicate.”
Judy and Clay Smith have lived in Medina 47 years.
“In 1960, my company Alumax transferred me here from St. Louis,” Clay said. “My aunt in El Paso sent me a letter and suggested I look up her godson Gene and his wife Bev. They lived in Euclid. They invited me over for several dinners. Then one Sunday I arrived and there was Judy sitting in their living room.”
“I was a medical technologist at a lab at University Hospital,” Judy said. “Bev and I worked together.”
“I thought Judy was very attractive, intelligent and articulate,” Clay said.
“He can still describe the dress I was wearing that day,” Judy said. “I thought he was a nice-looking Southern boy.”
The couple married two years later. They have three daughters: Bethany, a fifth-grade teacher; Sharon, a health care worker; and Kristie, a science teacher in Vermont.
“We had a small wedding in Tiffin, Ohio,” Judy said. “Just one attendant.”
“We went to Mont-Tremblant in Quebec for our honeymoon,” Clay said. “We stayed at a hunting/fishing lodge.”
The Smiths said they believe the secret to their successful marriage is due in part to their mutual interests and activities.
“We’re still very active,” Judy said. “For many years we met once a month with a marriage encounter group, and we have always been involved with our church. We recently started a book club and we are active in volunteering.”
“Communication in a marriage is important,” Clay said. “And never go to bed upset with each other.”
Contact reporter Nancy Johnson at (330) 721-4065 or firstname.lastname@example.org.