Edwin Boknecht of Fort Wayne has been married to his wife, Dorothy, for more than 65 years, and is quick to offer two wise words that will lead to a long and happy marriage: “Yes, dear.”
The couple were surprised when friends and family showed up unexpectedly Sunday at their home in Arlington Park. The couple’s only child, Dianne Koch, had arranged the surprise gathering after discovering that her parents were the state winners for this year’s Longest Married Couple project, sponsored by Worldwide Marriage Encounter in San Bernardino, Calif.
Each year Worldwide Marriage Encounter does a nationwide search, asking for nominations for the annual award. The couple named as the longest married couple in the United States, based on the nominations submitted, was Harold and Edna Owings of Burbank, Calif., who have been married more than 82 years, according to a statement from Worldwide Marriage Encounter.
Lifetime residents of Fort Wayne, Ed and Dorothy were married in Hammond on June 26, 1948 by Dorothy’s uncle, a priest who lived in Hammond.
Ed, 89, worked 39 years at the Indiana Rod & Wire Division of Phelps Dodge and served in the 13th Army Air Force in the Pacific theater during World War II. He was thrilled to be one of the veterans invited on an Honor Flight in May. Honor Flights transport planeloads of World War II veterans to the World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C.
“I had never seen the memorial,” Ed said. “It was a wonderful trip.”
The couple like to spend weekends – in nice weather – at a cabin they own at Lake George, and traveling is on their list of favorite things to do.
“We’ve been on several cruises and spent a lot of time in California when Ed’s parents and my sisters lived there,” Dorothy said.
Koch’s husband, Steve, died two years ago, but prior to that the couple, along with his parents and her parents, enjoyed doing everything together.
“My friends thought that was so strange – that every holiday and every trip would involve Steve and myself and our parents, but it was always fun when we were together,” Koch said.
“Dad has always been the kind of guy who was so good to everyone he met that he and Mom were always surrounded by friends. And Mom was pragmatic, but very loving,” Koch said.
In spite of their seeming spryness, the Boknechts are facing some serious health issues in the next few weeks. Dorothy, 85, was diagnosed with colon cancer in 1974 and with breast cancer in 2002. She will begin kidney dialysis treatments later this week. Ed was recently diagnosed with colon cancer and is scheduled for surgery Tuesday.
The couple admitted they argue from time to time, but not often and not for long.
“We just don’t get overly excited about those kinds of things,” Dorothy said.
“Whatever it is, just forget it and start fresh the next morning,” Ed said. “I still have her and that’s the most important thing,” he added, looking at his wife.
Their life motto might be reflected on a plaque that Dorothy gave to her – and now Ed’s – colorectal surgeon. The plaque, which holds a prominent place on the surgeon’s desk, reads: “Never, ever, ever give up.”