ROCHELLE – It’s a milestone very few married couples reach.
Jim and Marnie Moorehead welcomed 2018, both looking forward to Jan. 24 when they will celebrate their 78th wedding anniversary.
What is the key to a successful and long-term marriage?
“Think of the other person first,” Marnie replied. “That and having flexibility.”
Jim answered rather quickly in his usual style, never missing a beat and always mixed in with a little humor.
“The key is very simple…yes dear, yes dear, yes dear, and yes dear,” Jim remarked.
The Rochelle community often sees Jim running errands daily, stopping at the post office and at the senior center for coffee. He is also an active member in the Rochelle Kiwanis Golden K, Masonic Lodge member, and is a Shriner.
“It’s amazing my wife put up with me all these years,” Jim chuckled with some seriousness. “It’s been an exceptionally good life…we have both been tough and deliberate and just hung in there I guess.”
A very fine year
The year was 1940 — when the Great Depression finally began to ease, the average new home cost $4,000, a gallon of gas went for 11 cents, and the average price for a new car was $850.
Since their best friends were set to marry in Iowa, both Jim and Marnie agreed to serve as witnesses. Jim explained in 1940 Illinois laws wouldn’t allow couples to marry the same day they obtained their license. Since they knew one day they would eventually marry, Jim and Marnie got their wedding license along with their friends early that morning after making the trek on the two-lane highway.
Their friends urged Jim and Marnie to marry on the same day, but both refused since Marnie still attended high school. It was against school rules to marry.
“We were having lunch and the minister came in and asked who was getting married. I stood up and said we were,” Jim said. “His name was Rev. C.C. Clemens.”
The friends then served as each other’s witnesses and the rest was history…well, sort of. Since Marnie still attended Earlville High School, they couldn’t formally announce they were husband and wife until after she graduated for fear of getting expelled. They kept the secret until her graduation.
A few years later Jim enlisted in the Navy as a diesel mechanic, leaving behind Marnie and their young son, signing on to serve for the duration of World War II already underway.
About five months after the war ended in September of 1945, Jim was honorably discharged and returned to a civilian life in Rockford. They moved to Rochelle in 1955 where the couple raised their son, Butch, and daughter, Cherrie. After retiring, they both enjoyed golf and traveling in their RV, wintering in the south.
Jim celebrated his 91st birthday by jumping out of an airplane at the Chicagoland Skydiving Center.
The couple, along with their two children, have many grandchildren, great grandchildren, and great great-grandchildren.