Oldest married couple celebrates 80th Valentine’s Day together
In the same year that “Gone With the Wind” first hit theaters, another timeless love story from the South was also beginning.
Texas couple John and Charlotte Henderson will celebrate their 80th Valentine’s Day together on Friday after having already been recognized by Guinness World Records last year as the oldest living couple on Earth.
John, 107, and Charlotte, 105, celebrated their 80th wedding anniversary in November. They have actually been Valentine’s Day sweethearts for 85 years if you count the time they were together before they were married in 1939.
“It doesn’t seem like it’s been that long,” John told Jenna Bush Hager on TODAY Friday. “Time does fly.”
The couple first meet in a zoology class at the University of Texas in 1934, right in the middle of the Great Depression. John, who was a football player for the Longhorns, was seated right behind Charlotte Curtis and was immediately smitten.
“When I just saw her and got to talking to her, I don’t think I ever had another date after that one day in the class,” he said.
“Well, I’ll tell you, he was just the nicest man you ever met,” Charlotte said.
They went out for a Coca-Cola on their first date, less than a year after Prohibition ended.
The Hendersons were married five years later in the same year that World War II began. Only two guests were present at the ceremony along with the minister, and the hotel they stayed at on their honeymoon cost $7 a night.
After eight decades as a married couple, Valentine’s Day remains a special time to renew their love.
“I make a homemade valentine for her every year,” John said.
“Oh yes, a little love note on it, yes,” Charlotte said. “He’s pretty romantic, when you get down to it.”
Charlotte also has expressed her romantic side over the years, including a poem she wrote in 1961 for their wedding anniversary.
“Because you are so sweet, you still sweep me off my feet,” she wrote. “I do believe I’ll stick with you, and try another 22.”
The couple, who never had children, spent years traveling the world together. They’ve been retired since the early 1970s, and returned a decade ago to Austin, Texas, where their romance began, to live in the retirement community Longhorn Village.
They still exercise every day and enjoy a glass of wine together most nights.
The Hendersons are routinely asked about their secret to their record-setting longevity together.
“Never go to bed at night with a chip on your shoulder, and be glad you’re with each other,” John said.
They also have maintained their sense of humor all these years. John was asked what life would be like without his special valentine.
“Well, I don’t know,” he said. “I never tried it.”
“And he better not,” Charlotte said.
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