donna hemmelgarn.

ohio.  |  wife. mother. aunt. grandmother.

As Valentine’s Day approaches, I am pleased to highlight a marriage that has lasted a lifetime. Allow me to introduce you to Madonna (Nuss) Hemmelgarn. Madonna was born in Shelby County, Ohio in 1921 and she is my great aunt. She and her husband, Paul, have been married for over 65 years — in sickness and in health their love has not only survived the every day trials life brings, it has thrived.

I have often wondered what magical marital secret these two share. So, in honor of Saint Valentine, I called and asked Donna to look back at 65 years of marriage and share some advice. As it turns out, their magical secret is pretty simple.

How long have you been married?

May 21, 2014 was 65 years. We have enjoyed our years working together, right from the start in our own business in 1949. Our first daughter was born in 1950 and a son in 1951 and another daughter in 1953. We are blessed. I was a stay at home mother while our children were in school.

Where did you meet your husband?

Our first date or our first time together, we were both at a dance hall called the 8 Ball on South Main Street in Dayton and were introduced by mutual friends in 1947.  I worked during the war years at NCR (National Cash Register Company) and my husband also worked there after getting out of the service in 1946. So this was the start of our time together. As for my proposal, I guess he just knew I would be willing to spend our lives together. We enjoyed both of our families and friends so he proposed in front of Neil’s restaurant in Dayton with the ring and you know the answer.

What is your best marital advice?

Be a good listener and give a full 100%. Nobody ever wins an argument. Make decisions together—at least the big ones.

Why do you feel America has such a high divorce rate?

I think it has a lot to do with both partners working, and many times one or the other is traveling and away, which becomes a problem. The economy and job loss is another issue—life can be very stressful. All of these make us more independent. Drugs & alcohol can also cause stress. But what do I know.

What is your best advice on how to live a graceful life?

Keep a positive attitude and except what happens in your day-to-day life. Spend time with your family and friends. We never know how long they will be with us. Don’t forget to keep God with you on your walk through life. Any spelling errors in this belong to the computer.

j. jane side notes:

A special thank you to Madonna’s husband Paul for assisting with this interview. I look forward to our next conversation in Richmond, Virginia.

The young boy featured in this photograph is my Uncle D.J. – he is the brother of my mother’s Rita Elaine and Mary Jane. His commitment to document our family history is unparalleled. We are all incredibly grateful for his dedication to our family story.

  • Sasha Nuss
    Posted at 02:16h, 09 February

    My grandpa was Jerome Nuss. I’m so interested hearing about our family history and the wonderful stories that our family can pass along. I can’t believe you have been married for 65 beautiful years that’s just amazing!!! I love the picture just wondering if Jerome is in the picture. Thanks sincerely Sasha Nuss (Gerald Paul’s daughter)

  • Jacqui
    Posted at 02:39h, 09 February

    such simple advice….sometimes we forget the simple things that can help love endure. Thanks to your Great Aunt Jess.