Joe Rondone / HP staff
75 years of love
Curtis and Irene Drake laugh about
how they’ve managed to keep their marriage strong over the last 75 years
at the couple’s house along Van Auken Lake. After listening for a while
to the reasons Irene has listed, Curtis gives one reason he thinks their
relationship has lasted: “You know
who talks and who don’t.” The Drakes marked their 75th
anniversary on Sunday.
By Andrew Lersten
South Haven Bureau
July 17, 2013
Curtis and Irene Drake enjoying
HARTFORD — Curtis and Irene Drake can teach young
people a thing or two about a long, successful marriage.
And by young, they mean people in their 80s.
The Drakes, who live along Van Auken Lake north of Hartford, marked their
75th anniversary Sunday. Family and friends will stop by July 21 to formally
celebrate their diamond anniversary.
Curtis, 97, married his wife, 95, after they met in Chicago. They raised two
Curtis has advice for younger married couples: “Take it one step at a time.
And there’s got to be give and take.”
Irene said the secret to a good marriage is working hard and staying busy.
“We never thought of getting a divorce,” she said. “You just go on living.
We’ve just been able to hang in there.”
The couple dispensed two other good tips. First, never go to bed mad.
Second, always kiss each other good night.
“I don’t believe in fighting,” Irene said.
For those attending the celebration later this month, there is a logistical
problem. It’s awful hard to find a good 75th anniversary card. Perhaps they
would settle for a 50th anniversary card coupled with a 25th anniversary
The Drakes say they have been blessed with good health and are fortunate to
still live on their own in their house.
How long can they expect to stay married?
“As long as we’re still wiggling around,” Irene joked.
For the Drakes, it’s important that they both pursue their own personal
Curtis is active in two area camera clubs and is a member of an area gun
club, while Irene still plays bingo twice a week, according to their
daughter, Jean Johnson, of Jenison.
Curtis is a retired farmer and Venetian blinds salesman.
Johnson said her father grew up on a Centennial Farm near Bangor and
attended the Van Auken Lake one-room school. He graduated from Hartford High
School [HHS 1935] and joined his uncle in the Venetian blinds business in
Irene was raised in Alexandria, Manitoba, and moved to Chicago to help an
aunt, who struggled with arthritis.
Johnson said they met in church. Their first date was over an 11-cent
sundae. They were married in 1938 in Alexandria.
They moved to Hartford in 1942 so they could manage Curtis’ brother’s farm.
Over the years he served with Hartford schools and the Bangor Township
Board. His love of hunting led him to the Southwestern Michigan Gun Club,
where he still competes, Johnson said.
Irene has been involved in several social clubs and often attends the
Hartford Senior Center.