Still In Love After 69 Years, Couple Teaches Kids, Grandkids Keys To Romance

A couple has passed on their secrets for a lifetime love on to future generations.

Photo Credit: The Keller Family
Photo Credit: The Keller Family
Gloria Keller and her husband Bob, of Aquebogue, will celebrate 69 years of marriage in April — and today, they've passed on their love secrets to their son and daughter-in-law, who will be married 21 years on May 1.

Georgette Keller said her husband, Bob, proposed to her 21 years ago this Valentine's Day, and the pair are still lovebirds. He learned a lot about the lessons of love from his parents, she said.

"They have taught us that what St. Paul taught us," Keller said. "Love is patient, love is kind, not always easy to follow. That, and that you must always make time for some romance."

Her mother-in-law, Gloria Keller was only 14 years old when she met her husband, Bob. Years later, their love story is a valentine shared with generations.
"I met him it in a shoe store," Gloria said. "I was with my girlfriend and I just absolutely flipped. I went home and told my mother, 'I just met the boy I'm going to marry.'"

The couple wed when Gloria was 18 and he was 20 — today, they are 87 and 89, and their love is a testament to time and devotion.

Looking back on what she believes has kept their love steadfast, Gloria said, "First of all, you have to be best friends. You have to be completely honest."

Valentine's Day, Gloria said, has held different meanings for her and her husband. "I am a very romantic person. I cry at movies. He 's not made like that. However, he'll say, 'Go out and buy yourself anything you want.'"

And Gloria always made sure to keep the romance alive, even when their three children, Robert, Suzanne, and John, were young. "We always went out to dinner," she said. "He was a chief in the fire department in the city and whenever he came home, even at 8 p.m, we would eat. On any holiday, I always had the table set in holiday colors, with flowers. There was a children's table so he and I could have a romantic dinner."

His parents' love story is reflected in the abiding love their son, South Jamesport resident Bobby Keller has for his wife Georgette.

After watching his parents, Bobby shared his secrets for a happy marriage. "Never giving up, having the courage to walk that line, to be willing to fight, and willing to forgive," he said. "To be ready to admit when you are wrong as often as you are ready to point out the shortcomings of your spouse, and to believe in the reality of love, and the power of that destiny that brought the two of you together in the first place. It is bigger than the both of you."

Looking back on the day they became engaged, Georgette Keller said Valentine's Day has forever held romantic memories of that moment. "He made a cassette tape of music for the occasion. First, he played Louis Armstrong's 'I Surrender, Dear,' then came Tony Bennett's 'Time After Time,' and, as the lyrics rang out, 'So, time after time, I always know that I'm so lucky to be loving you. . . ' he got down on one knee and proposed with the most exquisite, antique sapphire ring I had ever seen. Now, that's romance."

While his parents will celebrate their 69th wedding anniversary in April, Georgette and Bobby will celebrate their 21st wedding anniversary this year — and another special day.

"On Valentine's Day 1997, I was in the hospital. I had given birth to our daughter, Nina, and he came into my room with a box of handmade candies — hand-dipped chocolate covered fudge — and sat on my hospital bed with me and Nina. We watched 'Breakfast at Tiffany's' on the hospital TV," she said.

The couple, Georgette said, always does something special to mark Valentine's Day, usually going out for a romantic dinner. "I always make his card by hand —and either write a poem or buy a book of poetry," she said. "Valentine's Day doesn't have to be expensive, but it should allow the romantic in you to shine, unabashedly, for the one you love."

Even their daughter Nina was inspired by her grandparents' enduring love. After Hurricane Sandy hit her grandparents' Aquebogue home on the bay, sending 51 inches of water pouring into their basement, and destroying decades of priceless family memories and treasures,  the teen rushed to help.

Out of the floodwaters of despair, came hope: In salvaged bins were water-drenched photos and letters, letters a young Bob Keller had sent his love, Gloria, when he was sent off to serve in the Air Force during World War II.

The letters revealed a romantic young man, wooing his girl, calling her "cupcake" and signing off as "Bobbykins."

Covering the period of time from when her grandfather first left for basic training at 17 in 1942 until he returned in 1945, Nina said the letters include words of love that laid the foundation for a marriage that has lasted a lifetime.

Her grandfather, said, was very much in love and wrote long letters; she has almost 100 pages in all.

"One was so beautiful," she said. "He told her, 'Don't worry about my getting killed overseas. If I get killed, I'll love you from beyond the grave."

Dotted with terms of endearment such as "cupcake," and "sweets," her grandfather, Nina said, poured out his heart and said "I love you" three or four times in every missive, teaching her about true and enduring love that spans generations. 

"It's such a beautiful testament. When he wrote, 'I'll love you forever,' he meant it — he has," she said.

Faith, Georgette Keller said, is important to a long-term relationship. "Taking care of one another is important, but but we have also learned that church is key, too. They always went to Mass together, and today, our daughters Grace and Nina are typical teens and sleep on Sunday mornings, and now we go alone together. It is humbling and unites us against anything we have to face each week. And that is one of the most important things we learned,  that we are united."

Reflecting on what Valentine's Day means to her family, Keller said, "Bobby proposed to me 21 years ago on Valentine's Day morning. And I always take time to reflect on my Prince Charming.He still brings me breakfast in bed every morning. He had good mentors."

Rosanne Spinner February 15, 2014 at 11:00 AM
Wow! A hearty congratulations to you! Thanks for sharing!
Ms. Lisa February 15, 2014 at 01:21 PM
So unbelievably sweet. I hope I have that kind of love one day. It gives me hope and inspiration to never settle . True love really does exist!
Six Pack February 16, 2014 at 12:54 AM
Fantastic! A true love story!
Marilyn February 17, 2014 at 04:51 AM
This is a wonderful love story. It would make a terrific book and I don't mean that as a derogatory comment. I think young couples can learn how to make their marriage last forever and raise their children to do the same. I wish both couples many more years of happiness.....


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