Couple shares their secrets to longevity, marriage
When a couple is married for as long as 73 years, they sort of become each other's memory. Floyd Severson recounted when he first met his wife Frances, while Frances reminded Floyd the name of the club where they met in California. Floyd turned 95 this month and Frances is 93. Floyd was 21-years-old and Frances was 19 when they were married in May 1944. They continue to keep each other company, watch over each other and remind one another of the memories and stories of their past.
Floyd was in the Navy when he met Frances in 1944.
"I was waiting for my ship at Treasure Island (California) and I decided to go on liberty one night with a friend of mine," he said. "We went to this dance hall and they would not allow drinking or smoking and I forget the name of that place (Floyd looked at Frances, who told him it was the Sweet Ball Room). We saw these two girls dancing together; one was a brunette and one was a redhead. I told Giger (his friend), let's split those girls up and I'll take the brunette and you take the redhead. And that is how I met my wife. …We were together for about six weeks and we decided to get married because I was going overseas."
"We got married on the 14th of May," Frances said. "One night when we were out together he just said, 'When we get married I want to raise all the children in my church," Frances said as she added with emphasis, "When we get married, not will you marry me."
Floyd was raised on a 160-acre farm north of Idaho Falls in a small town called Coltman.
"When Uncle Sam started pointed his finger at me at 20, I decided to join the Navy. I was on an attack transport AP169 USS Golden City. I sailed around the world seven times," Floyd said.
"He saw a lot of action around there I'll tell you that," Frances added. "Fortunately, the dentist aboard the ship took a liking to him and had him come to help in the dental office. … Because he worked with the dentist, he didn't have to go on the landing craft and it probably saved his life, you know?"
"I didn't have to go ashore with the Marines. If they saw somebody with a red bag (a medic), they would try to shoot them first," Floyd said.
Frances was born in Oakland and later lived in Alameda, Calif. Floyd worked for Texaco for 32 years as an accountant and they transferred him from Oakland to Los Angeles. The couple did not like Los Angeles and when Texaco said they were going to open an office in Portland, he jumped at the chance to transfer. That was 46 years ago.
"We bought five acres out north of Hillsboro. It had a ranch house out there … we had a beautiful home," Frances said. "But they started developing the whole area so we decided that we had to move and get out. We bought this place up on (Chehalem Mountain off Bell Road). We have 2.5 acres."
The Seversons have nine children, 41 grand-children and 87 great-grandchildren. It is Frances who can remember all of her grand- and great-grandchildren's names, but Floyd depends on her memory for that.
"I have to find out who belongs to who," Floyd Severn said.
Few married couples make it to their 70th anniversary. According to a UNO Center for Public Research study in 2011, 0.1 percent of all people currently married have reached their 70th year of marriage and 6 percent lasts to their 50th.
"I think one of the most important things is to put the other person's need ahead of your own needs," Frances said. "For instance, I didn't want to leave the Bay Area. My family was there, that was my home. But he needed to work in Richmond, which was a two hour drive; it was ridiculous. So you move."
"He puts up with not having dinner until 7 o'clock because I teach piano. So there is a lot of give and take," she added. "That's what it has to be. You stick together. If I said that (a son) is on restriction because he did so and so and the man would say, well you can come anyway, well, that's not right. You know what I mean? You stand behind each other."