Connecticut couple, married 81 years, recognized as America's longest married couple
101-year-old husband and 97-year-old wife have been married since 1932
John and Ann Betar of Fairfield, Fairfield, Connecticut, are receiving an early Valentine's Day gift: recognition as the "longest-married" couple in the United States. John, 101 and Anne, 97 have been married since Nov. 25, 1932. This year will mark their 81st wedding anniversary.
With five children, 14 grandchildren and 16 great-grandchildren, the Betars "are wonderful, generous, compassionate and good-humored," their granddaughter Heather Mitchell says.
As a couple, the Betars had their tribulations. John and Ann met as children, Ann's parents had arranged for her to marry someone else. The couple defied her parents' wishes and eloped.
Betar would go on to have five children, 14 grandchildren and 16 great-grandchildren.
"They were going against all odds," Renee Betar, one of the couple's daughters says. She describes her mother's decision as difficult, but the right one "when there's no other way but love."
A fruit peddler before opening his own grocery store, Betar's Market in Bridgeport, Ann stayed home to take care of their five kids.
Mitchell says she will host a special ceremony on Saturday at her home in Fairfield. Family members, friends, and their church's priest and deacon are expected to attend. Local officials, including Fairfield First Selectman Mike Tetreau and Trumbull Mayor Tim Herbst, who is a family friend, will be present as well.
"Their humility is impressive," said Mitchell. "They don't think they are unique or special. They think 'Everyone in our day got married this young,' and they don't see how special they are as everyone around them does. It adds to their charm."
As if to underscore this, John Betar told reporters, "It's quite an honor, but I don't know what it's for.
"We just live with contentment and we don't live beyond our means," he says.
John and Ann often cook together and keep a moderate diet. They also enjoy reading.
"Sito (grandmother in Arabic) is a voracious reader, and Gido (grandfather in Arabic) is more of a magazine reader," Mitchell said. "(Sito) pores through books, biographies and loves to learn about people."
The Betars take their recognition humbly, and are at a loss as to what the fuss is all about. "It's no big deal being married 80 years when you're in love," the Betars' daughter Renee says.
© 2013, Distributed by NEWS CONSORTIUM.
Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for December 2013
General Intention: Victimized Children. That children who are victims of abandonment or violence may find the love and protection they need.
Missionary Intention: Prepare the Savior's Coming. That Christians, enlightened by the Word incarnate, may prepare humanity for the Savior's coming.
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