By Wendy Nugent, Harvey County Now
HESSTON—After the pastor who did marriage counseling with Margie and Rich Huxman returned home, he told his wife the Huxmans’ marriage would never last. They were too young, he thought. Rich was 18, and Margie was 19.
They proved him wrong, having been married for 76 years.
The Hesston couple met when Rich drove several people to a party.
“The youth high school group in church had a skating party and he drove a car, and he likes to tell people I picked the middle seat,” Margie said.
That was the front middle seat, where she sat next to Rich.
Rich said he had recently had broken up with a friend of Margie’s.
“I saw [Margie] and thought, ‘Golly, that doesn’t look too bad.’ She claimed she didn’t do that purposely,” Rich said about Margie sitting next to Rich in the car.
Margie said she remembers that car ride, but she doesn’t recall their first date. She also doesn’t think Rich proposed—said they just decided to wed.
Fast forward to now and the couple has celebrated at least 76 Valentine’s Days together. They married on June 21, 1945, at West Zion Mennonite Church in Moundridge, where they’re still members. When they exchanged vows, Margie was 19, and Rich was 18. Although Margie isn’t sure what fabric her wedding dress was made out of, she recalls the price—$28.
“It bought it, the veil and all,” she said.
“Wouldn’t you say looking at that picture, I had pretty good taste?” Rich inquired of Margie’s graduation photo.
Now, they’re 95 and 94, respectively. He’ll turn 95 later this month, while Margie will celebrate her 96th birthday March 15.
Yes, they’ve been married for 76 years.
Each believes there’s a secret to a long marriage.
“It takes work,” Margie said. “It’s not easy always—a lot of patience and a lot of give and take.”
Rich said his secret is when making decisions to put himself in the background and think of Margie first.
They also know the Lord and raised their family in the church.
When the couple met, Margie said all the boys were going to war and there was something wrong with Rich’s back, so he didn’t serve. One of Rich’s good friends was killed on the first day of the Normandy invasion, he said.
Rich didn’t pass the physical to serve in the military and the couple was married by that time.
Although they loved to travel, the Huxmans didn’t move much. Their first house, which they lived in from 1945-’69, was four miles east and 1-1/3 miles south of Moundridge. Their second home, which they built, was just south of the first home. Their third home was a duplex on the Schowalter Villa campus in Hesston, and their fourth and current home is an apartment at Mullet Place, which is assisted living at Schowalter Villa. They raised their three children in the first house. All of their homes still are standing, Rich said.
Their children are Doug of Hillsboro, Ron of Moundridge and Amy of Wichita.
Another home was in San Antonio, where they traveled every winter for 10 years, residing there from January to March.
While Margie raised their children, Rich worked at AGCO, starting when he was in his 20s.
“I know he retired in 1986,” Margie said.
Rich recalled a story that made him laugh. One day at work, one of his fellow workers lost parts of some of his fingers. Rich took the man to Axtell for treatment and the man returned to work in two months and was given $1,700, which was a lot of money back then. The boss told Rich to not let that worker get near the machine that hurt him since that man was ready to retire and said he might try to lose more of his finger parts to get another $1,700 for his retirement.
“That was crazy,” Rich said, adding they didn’t sew the man’s fingers on and that he was an old Mennonite from Goessel.
Their travels have spanned the globe, from Europe to all 50 states except Alaska. The travels were through Rich’s job and tours they took.
“We love to travel,” Margie said. “We had our most favorite memories traveling. We did a lot of that traveling after he retired.”
In addition to traveling, being married and raising children, the couple also took part in choral activities, as Rich sang in a church group for 40 years, and Margie sang in high school and at Schowalter Villa.
At one point, Rich was a farmer but didn’t like it much. Margie said he did a lot of farming, waking quite early to work the farm and then going to work after that.
Margie didn’t work outside the home, except for two weeks, but she said that doesn’t count.