With a red carnation boutonniere on his shirt pocket and a matching corsage on her wrist, George and Ruth (Pohlman) Russell looked as in love as a couple of young newlyweds Monday, celebrating their 69th wedding anniversary at the Arbors at Victorian Place of Washington. Ruth, 89, is in memory care and George, 92, in assisted living.
The Russells were married Sept. 18, 1948, at St. John’s Lutheran Church, Beaufort.
It was a simple ceremony, nothing fancy or big, said George, who served in the Navy during World War II.
“They were cutting corn, and I said, ‘I’m going to go back and cut corn’ . . . but they had dinner for us back at her house,” he recalled.
The couple met when her sister was dating his friend. They started dating as well, and it wasn’t too long before they were married, said George, who grew up in Gray Summit.
He asked for her father’s blessing in a memorable scene one day after he’d been working on her family’s farm near Beaufort.
Her father asked George what he owed him for the work, and George quickly replied, “I’ll take Ruth!”
“He looked at me and said, ‘Well, you can have her,’ ” George recalled with a smile.
The couple lived in Union for the first few months before moving to an apartment in Washington. He worked as an electrician, and she worked at the Deb Shoe Factory on Fifth Street in Washington.
When they had their first child, a son, she quit working to stay home, and soon after they purchased a home in Union on Lincoln Avenue, near the grade school.
They had two more children, a daughter and another son, and when the children began high school, George built the family a new home on Clearview Road where they lived for 37 years.
As he neared retirement, George built a gazebo at Ruth’s request, and after it was complete, they sat in it together every day.
The couple never spent much time apart.
“I came home every night, except when I went deer hunting,” he remarked with a laugh.
They made trips together to Branson quite a bit. He would come home from work to find she had packed up the RV, and they would hit the road.
George said they were not a couple who were quick to anger. They always got along well. Their secret to a long, happy marriage is one word: Love.
“I loved her, and I guess she loved me,” he said, looking at her adoringly and with his arm around her. “I never thought of anything else after we were married. That was it.”
That’s his advice to all men getting married today.
“Love your wife and be a good man,” he said.
George said their happiest moments as a couple were when their children were born and raising the family together. They now have dozens of grandchildren and great-grandchildren.