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Married couple renews vows after 62 years

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Richard and Joan Hintz on the day of the vow renewals at the CountryHouse Residence. (Courtesy of the CountryHouse Facebook page)
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Richard and Joan Hintz were young when they married in 1958; Joan was 18, and Richard was close behind. This year marks more than 62 years of a love that only grows stronger each day. On June 12, with the help of the CountryHouse Residence for memory care facility, the couple were able to make their bond even stronger by renewing their wedding vows.

In the backyard of the CountryHouse Residence, despite not being able to have their children present, the wedding setting could not have been more authentic for the Hintz couple. A beautiful, bright blue sky with small smudgy clouds that looked to have been painted into the sky. On a table to the side were two bottles of champagne, a strawberry shortcake and plates and napkins emphasizing “love” with a banner hanging from the table saying “MR. and MRS.”

Residence members were able to be present, and both Richard and Joan dressed for the occasion. Richard dressed in all black and a shiny black top hat, while Joan walked down the aisle in an authentic wedding gown and white flowers. Joan was also given away to Richard by Chris Kenny, the enrichment assistant and close friend of the Hintz family. Abi Rohrer, the life enrichment coordinator and ordained minister, was the one to do the honors by allowing the long time couple to renew their vows and exchange the words “I do,” 62 years after saying them for the first time.

“It was wonderful,” Joan said. “I felt pretty good; (the dress) was very beautiful. It was very, very wonderful.”

Joan recounted how she felt about Richard when the two were getting to know each other in Burke County, North Dakota.

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“I thought he was … kinda different,” she admitted with a chuckle. “He’s goofy … But I knew Richard before, because my brother’s married to Richard’s sister.”

When asked when she knew Richard was the one for her, Joan stated there wasn’t one moment.

“I don’t know, but he was the only one I ever went with,” Joan said. And I was his only girlfriend, too.”

Despite being very young when the couple married, the two have continued to be close and have strong love for one another. During those 62 years, the two had four children, Leonra, Tammie, Melissa and Rick.

“Those 62 years have been wonderful; it’s a roller coaster,” Joan said. “We’re very close. We were young when we got married ... We’ve been through a lot together. Three things that keeps our marriage going is laughter, being truthful and being kind to each other.”

As far as marriage advice, Joan stated couples should “trust and love each other.”

Tessa Johnson, the executive director at CountryHouse, explained what led to the renewal of Richard and Joan’s vows.

“In our corporation, in our memory care here, we have a weekly theme every week, and so, at the end of our Happily Ever After Week, (Rohrer) came up with the idea, sort of last minute and said, ‘Let’s renew Richard and Joan’s vows,’ ” Johnson said.

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For Rohrer, it’s an honor to be able to help bring long-time married couples together and make their love even stronger.

“The fact that we get to be a part of this and create these moments for not just our residents but for our community and their families and to normalize senior living,” Rohrer said. “To normalize the fact that living with dementia does not mean that you have to stop living your best life, and we still get to make that happen for them.”

Matthew Curry is a sports reporter and photographer for the West Central Tribune.
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