According to national statistics, the average length of a marriage is eight years.
Switzerland County’s Renzie and Elva Powell have that average well covered, as the couple celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary on Wednesday, January 25th.
The couple resides on Scott’s Ridge, but currently Renzie is at the Swiss Villa Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Vevay – where Elva visits him every day around supper time.
“I grew up in Anderson County, Kentucky,” Elva said recently. “Where we always traded was at Lawrenceburg, Kentucky, a little town. We lived in Shelbyville for quite awhile; and then we came over here and have been here ever since. We came here in 1956.”
Elva was the daughter of John and Dora Rucker.
Renzie grew up around Shelbyville, Kentucky, the son of Ruth and Robert Powell, and after moving to Indiana, his family ran a restaurant in Memphis, Indiana.
“He was living in Indiana when I met him,” Elva said. “I went to the Shelbyville fair and he went to the fair, and that’s how we met. I was 18 and he was 21. He asked me, ‘would you ride this loop-o plane with me?’ It just takes you over and over. I hesitated for awhile, but then I got on it with him. He took me on home that night, and then he came back several times.”
That was late summer of 1946, and by January of 1947, the couple was getting married.
The newlyweds moved around a lot in different places in Kentucky; and then moved here to Switzerland County in 1956.
“Renzie was still farming then, but after awhile he went up to Thatcher Glass and got a job, and we worked there for 30 years,” Elva said.
When they first moved to Switzerland County, the couple lived down along the Ohio River, where Renzie’s family raised 25 acres of tobacco one year.
A heart attack was followed by open heart surgery, forcing Renzie to retire in 1985.
In addition to being a homemaker, Elva also worked at Thatcher Glass for 18 years; as well as helping out on the farm, stripping tobacco and setting tobacco.
“I told them, that when I got to be 70 years old, I’m stripping anymore tobacco,” Elva said with a grin. “And I didn’t.”
The couple had two children: son Renzie, Jr. and daughter Glenda, and now enjoy several grandchildren and great-grandkids – and there are now great great-grandchildren.
They have lived on Scott’s Ridge for the past 56 years, at first in a house just down the road from where they live now, and then built the home that they live in now in 1972.
So what’s the secret to being married 70 years?
“I don’t know, I didn’t do anything anybody else didn’t do, I don’t guess,” Elva said. “Just hard work, I guess. We’ve worked hard all of our lives.”
“Stay together and work it out,” she said. “Work through the rough patches. We had a few of those, but none that lasted very long. When you get married you have to see it through. You’ve got to work it out.”
Now, Elva stays busy at 88 years old. She’s starting on a new quilt top, doing some sewing and being busy around the house.
And she also continues her devotion to her husband.
“We come every night, about the time he eats his supper,” she says as she looks with devotion at her husband. “We have to make sure he eats. He hasn’t been eating very good.”
Renzie has been at Swiss Villa for about four months, having celebrated his 91st birthday on January 10th.
The couple was to celebrate with a cake at Swiss Villa on Wednesday; and a family celebration is planned for this Sunday.
“It doesn’t seem like 70 years to me,” Elva said. “The time has just gone by,”
“Just rolled on by,” Renzie said with a smile.