(EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the final installment in a series about area couples and how they celebrate their love.)
It hasn’t been an easy transition for the couple, being separated these past few weeks. After all, they’ve spent nearly every day and night together for the past 60 years.
For Vern Smith of Peabody, the life he’s shared with his wife, Rosalie, has been a good one and this latest “bump in the road” will be taken in stride.
Rosalie, 79, now lives at Legacy Park of Peabody while Vern, 87, lives in the couple’s home in town.
“I had been taking care of her but it just got to be too much of a worry,” Vern said.
Rosalie suffers from dementia and has become forgetful but it hasn’t diminished Vern’s love for her or his loyalty.
“I come here twice a day to be with her,” he said.
Their love story began in 1948 when Vern was a best man and Rosalie a bridesmaid at their friends’ wedding. They met and that was it.
“I never went with another woman and I don’t think Rosalie went with another man,” Vern said.
After a yearlong courtship, the Marion County natives were married June 12, 1949, at Whitewater Center Church, west of Burns. At that time, Rosalie was a telephone operator in Peabody and Vern was an oil field worker in El Dorado.
They honeymooned in Boulder, Colo., where Vern’s mother lived.
For five years, from 1952-59, Vern was a vocalist with a dance band, The Rhythmaires. Occasionally Rosalie would go with Vern to the dance halls to hear the band.
“She didn’t drink or smoke and couldn’t dance because I was busy, so she quit coming with me,” Vern said with a smile.
The couple moved to Colorado where they lived for a few years and then in 1966, returned to Kansas, settling in Peabody, where they have lived since.
Before Vern’s retirement, he was a contractor for 30 years.
The couple have three daughters and a son. One of their daughters, Susan, was killed several years ago in a car-train accident in Peabody.
“That was a rough time. I wasn’t sure if we were going to get through that,” Vern said, but they did.
Their other children, daughters Verna Mosiman and Gail Myers, both live in Peabody. Son Stanley Smith lives in Emporia. They also are proud of their 12 grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren.
The couple has experienced the usual strife of living.
“We’ve had some ‘ups and downs’ but they’ve been wonderful years,” Vern said.
Observers can see the two still are in love. He calls her “Babe” and pulls out the chair for her.
The past few weeks have been difficult for the couple because of Rosalie’s health. Some tests have been run to determine the extent of the ailment and in some ways for Vern, it doesn’t matter. He’ll be here, everyday to spend time with his bride.
“I thought she was the prettiest when she was pregnant,” Vern said, looking at Rosalie lovingly. “But most women don’t have much of a sense of humor during that time,” he added with a chuckle.
What advice could Vern offer other couples?
“Being mad all of the time doesn’t help,” he said. Forgive and forget the trivial matters. Concentrate on the important things in life — like family and each other.
“Sometimes we’d get away by getting in the car and driving around to see the sights,” Vern said, “and we’d just talk.”
Regardless if Rosalie receives flowers or a heart-shaped box of candy from her valentine, after nearly six decades of living and loving together, the two have a romance that is greater than gifts or even words can express.