GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Two 99-year-olds celebrated their 80th wedding anniversary on Sunday, making them the longest-living couple in the state, according to their family.
Donald Hart and his wife, Vivian, reminisced about the eight decades they’ve spent together while looking through old photo albums Friday in Grand Rapids. But for the couple, the albums are only the tip of the memory iceberg.
The Harts’ relationship blossomed in the 1930s. Donald Hart was leaving church when a group of “gals from out of town” needed some help home. But just giving out directions wasn’t his style.
“We said, ‘Aw, shoot. Why don’t we just walk you there?’ So we ended up walking them way across town,” he said. “We were just going to [walk] a little ways and then quit, but we ended up going all the way.”
He served in the Air Force and was drafted in World War II before spending more than 20 years at American Seating.
Vivian Hart, a chalk artist and avid reader, is most known for her unwavering love her family — especially her kids.
24 Hour News 8 spoke with the Harts’ oldest and youngest sons, who both touted their parents’ strength, forgiveness, and commitment to their family and church.
“When I look back on it, I think, ‘Boy, we were really poor,’” eldest son Don Hart said. “When [my dad] first got out of the military, I was 7 years old. We lived in a dinky house — it had been a chicken coop. We didn’t have things, but we had a lot of fun.”
Dave Hart, the couple’s youngest son, said he remembers the fun, but gets choked up thinking of all the nights his mom prayed and provided for him and his brothers.
“You’re gonna get me all emotional. I’m sorry,” he said. “My mom is a praying mom.”
But the good times, as well as the challenging times, only helped to grow the Harts’ love for one another.
“When those times happen you get knocked down, but you just get up and go again,” Donald Hart said. “When you get together again, it was better yet than ever. Seems that way.”
On Sunday, about 30 people gathered at Pilgrim Manor in Grand Rapids to celebrate the Harts’ long marriage. After some urging from his family, Donald Hart sang “Let Me Call You Sweetheart” to his wife.