Lebanese-American financier Ziad Abdelnour claimed: “Trust is earned, respect is given, and loyalty is demonstrated. Betrayal of any one of those is to lose all three.” Moreover, author Napoleon Hill wrote, “Lack of loyalty is one of the major causes of failure in every walk of life.” In a world where trust, respect and loyalty are rare and getting rarer, how refreshing to see a living example of those virtues lived out, day by day, long-term.
Today, Ken and Jane Dreyer of Hardy, Virginia are celebrating something remarkable and almost unheard of: their 71st wedding anniversary. (The account of their 70th anniversary is reported here.)
Wed on June 3, 1951 in southern Indiana (in a rather rushed process to get hitched before the draft would take Ken to fight in the Korean War), their union has produced four children (all of whom graduated from William and Mary), 10 grandchildren, and 11 great-grandchildren.
An inspiration to all who know them, the senior Dreyers are a living textbook of healthy and successful aging. A few traits that are their hallmarks:
- Other-focused: In contrast to so many who are self-centered, the Dreyers are interested in the lives of their family, friends, neighbors, and others. Rather than engaging in self-pity or reciting a litany of their aches and pains, their conversations inevitably ask: “How are you doing? How’s your work going?”
- Engaged: In a world where many are emotionally withdrawn and distant, and where the primary engagement is often with a screen, this couple stays involved. Now that Covid is receding, they are back in regular attendance at church. On the night before their 71st anniversary, they drove with friends to Rocky Mount to attend a meeting of the Gideons, a Christian organization that produces free Bibles for the masses around the world. As evidenced by voluminous research, such close involvement in a loving and affirming faith community plays a major role in their longevity. And they follow news closely, both foreign and domestic. At their anniversary lunch with family today, Jane was explaining about the major hurricane hitting Mexico that might cross over into Florida.
- Curious: Earlier this spring, shortly after being released from the hospital, Ken was walking in his yard and noticed something new. As he later recounted to his family: “I saw a bird I’ve never seen before. It had a yellow belly, dark back, and bars on its wings.” (The best we can tell, he saw a female Orchard Oriole.) How many 91-year-olds do you know? How many are that observant? How many are still looking at birds and curious when they see one they can’t identify, and then make the effort to ask about it?
- Excited: Speaking of birds, a few days before Memorial Day they were walking in their neighborhood and were animated to spot a Bald Eagle soaring overhead. They later enjoyed telling family about that unusual sighting. For them, life is a drama to be enjoyed, not a drudgery to be endured.
- Active: In addition to them both walking religiously, Ken has spent part of the cool evenings recently hoeing weeds away from his new tomato plants. They regularly call the library to put a hold on newly-released books. On a daily basis they read the Holy Scriptures and pray; they regularly pray for each member of their large and growing family by name. They subscribe to The Epoch Times, a number of magazines, and despite what they often find to be a distasteful bias, The Roanoke Times. They are also frequent readers of The Roanoke Star and this column. They follow the advice of motivational guru Zig Ziglar: “Every day read the Bible and the newspaper, so you know what both sides are up to.”
When asked, “What wisdom do you have to share about celebrating your 71st anniversary?” Ken responded with his characteristic dry wit: “I recommend it.” Jane’s answer: “It’s gone fast, and it’s been a lot of fun. When we got married in Indiana way back then, we would have never dreamed we’d be married this long, and be in Virginia.”
A closing anecdote about these two remarkable nonagenarians and their exceptional acuity: At their anniversary lunch today, their daughter was explaining about a popular bike path near Damascus, in Southwest Virginia. Those of the “younger” generation were trying to remember the name of the place. Ken then volunteered: “Creeper Trail?”
Happy anniversary to a remarkable couple!
The strength of a nation derives from the integrity of the home. – Confucius
Even in old age they will still produce fruit; they will remain vital and green. – Psalm 92:14