Although their marriage was never supposed to happen, John and Anne Betar of Fairfield, Connecticut said “I do” 80 years ago and are now honored as 2013′s longest married couple.
John and Anne originally met in Bridgeport, Connecticut where they grew up together in the same Syrian community. Per tradition, Anne was supposed to submit to an arranged marriage as chosen by her parents, but instead, on Nov. 25, 1932 she ran off with John to Harrison, N.Y. where they eloped.
Apparently their decision was a good one as John is now 101-years-old and Ann is 97, and they are still happily hitched. They have five children, 14 grandchildren, and 16 great-grandchildren.
The couple was chosen for the award by Worldwide Marriage Encounter, a Christian marriage group located in San Bernadino, California. The group plans to recognize the Betars on Saturday at a ceremony being held at the home of the couple’s granddaughter, Heather Mitchell.
“What an inspiration Mr. and Mrs. Betar are to all of us. They made a commitment to each other 80-plus years ago and they have kept that commitment over these many years. They truly are a sign of hope to us all,” Worldwide Marriage Encounter’s Ron and Judy Pekny said in a statement.*
Worldwide Marriage Encounter said they chose the Betars out of hundreds of couples whose names were nominated for the award, so it is possible there are longer married couples that weren’t brought to the group’s attention.
John and Anne are humble about their marital success and say most of all they have been “blessed.”
“We are very fortunate. It can be repeated and repeated,” Ann told ABC News. “It is unconditional love and understanding. We have had that. We consider it a blessing.”
When asked for their secret to wedded bliss, they simply said to compromise and not hold a grudge.
In addition to their marriage, their personal longevity is also impressive, and Anne says it is all thanks to their family.
“That’s what makes life what it is,” she said in November. “We were fortunate enough to live long enough to see this … and it’s really one of the most gratifying things in the world to see your great-grandchildren, to see your grandchildren become adults.”
John Betar added, “That’s what keeps us alive. We live for them.”**