SIDNEY — Two Sidney couples share a unique bond of celebrating their wedding anniversaries together just two weeks apart.
This year they are celebrating 64 years of marriage. For Sam and Kathryn Rees, and Harvey and Helen Wooddell, their story is unique, in and of itself, but being able to celebrate with the couple who stood up for them as best man and matron of honor who also were also married on the same Air Force Base two weeks before them, is special.
Sam and Kathryn Rees were married in Denver, Colorado, on Lowry Air Force Base on Sept. 13, 1952, and Harvey and Helen Wooddell were married there two weeks earlier on Aug. 30. They have remained good friends every since.
“There are not a lot of them at this level … we set a record in today’s world,” said Kathryn Rees, with a laugh about reaching the 64-year milestone.
The foursome graduated from Sidney High School; the ladies in 1952, and the men in 1951. The men joined the Air Force, had their basic training in different places, and surprisingly ended up at the same air force base where they all reconnected.
The Reeses were only in Colorado for three months, while Sam attended accounting school, before being moved to Indiana and then to Germany. The Wooddells remained there for the entire four years Harvey served in the Air Force. Then, once they all returned to Sidney, they made sure to catch-up and stayed in touch over the years.
Commitment, perseverance and hard work are synonymous with the Reeses and the Wooddells, and appears to be their secret to maintaining a strong marriage across time.
“You don’t give up! It’s the way were were raised. You work … We didn’t believe in divorce. It wasn’t an option. You were too busy working to even consider it,” said Helen Wooddell of how they reached the milestone in their marriage.
Kathryn agreed and said, “We were born in a different era. It wasn’t just five (years) and out. You didn’t give up.”
Eventually both couples bought and worked together to run their family businesses. The Rees family owned the former Sidney News Stand and Bookstore and still own and operate Sidney Auto Vue Drive-In. The Wooddells owned Woody’s Market until their sons bought in 1989 (it closed November 2015).
Spending a lot of time together could have caused friction, as Kathryn admitted “it has its ups and downs,” but in the end, “it all worked it out” and they remained strong.
When asked about how they managed to stay together for 64 years, Sam joked, “keep your mouth shut.” But he then went on to reminisce about the beginning of their marriage, saying it was “the happiest” of times.
Kathryn smiled and pulled out a picture of herself with her husband and their first born during the first couple of years of their marriage. It was taken in Germany. Their faces expressed Kathryn’s agreement that it was “the happiest times of (their) life.”
Both families have been blessed with many children and grandchildren.
The Reeses had four children, one passed as an infant, and three are living; they have 11 grandchildren; they had eight great-grandchildren, and one great-grandchild passed away. They said they have stayed very busy with their businesses.
The Wooddells have three sons, six grandsons, and five great-grandchildren. They have enjoyed traveling together over the years.
The Reeses and the Wooddells met for an anniversary lunch on Sept. 6 — a date set between the two anniversaries to get together and celebrate. Each couple had dinner plans for their individual celebrations.
“It sounds like a long time, but you stop and think, ‘where did the time go?’ It’s unreal when you really stop and think what all happened in those 64 years. And it just doesn’t seem like 64 years,” said Kathryn.
“It’s a two way street. Don’t try to change the other one, because it don’t work. And every once in a while, sit down and think why you fell in love with them. Just except them the way they are,” Sam said.
Reach the writer at 937-538-4823.