A Connecticut couple has been named the “longest-married” couple in America, after recently celebrating their 80th anniversary in November.
John and Ann Betar of Fairfield, Conn., have five children, 14 grandchildren, and 16 great-grandchildren. John is 101 years old, and Ann is 97.
“They are wonderful, generous, compassionate and good-humored,” granddaughter Heather Mitchell said. “The way they deal with life’s blessings and tragedies with such grace is one of the things that impresses me the most about them.”
Though the award does not mean they are truly the longest married in the country, they were the longest married of all others nominated last year.
A special celebration will be held on Saturday to honor their marriage. Family members, friends and the Betar’s priest and deacon will attend.
“Their humility is impressive,” Mitchell said. “They don’t think they are unique or special. They think ‘Everyone in our day got married this young,’ and they don’t see how special they are as everyone around them does. It adds to their charm.”
John Betar is, indeed, humble. When asked how he felt about the award, he said, “It’s quite an honor, but I don’t know what it’s for.”
Their love story is one of passionate love and rebellion from parental wishes.
They met as children, and John would drive Ann to school. They soon fell in love, but Ann’s parents had already arranged for her to marry someone else.
Despite her parent’s wishes, Ann rebelled and married John instead.
“They were going against all odds,” Renee Betar said. She said her mother’s decision was difficult, but she had no other choice. “There’s no other way but love,” she explained.
Before John opened his own grocery store called Betar’s Market, he was a fruit peddler. Ann was a stay-at-home mom, and her five children kept her busy.
They say the key to their long marriage is spending time cooking together, keeping a moderate diet, and reading.
“We just live with contentment and we don’t live beyond our means,” John said. “Just go with the flow.”
Keeping their minds busy also helps.
“Sito (grandmother in Arabic) is a voracious reader, and Gido (grandfather in Arabic) is more of a magazine reader,” Mitchell said. “[Sito] pores through books, biographies and loves to learn about people.”
Their large family also helps keep them together.
“It’s fantastic for them to see how much their family has grown,” Judy Metro, one of the Betars’ daughters, said. “They have their health, they have their mind and they’re very wise.”
The Betar's will receive a plaque from the Worldwide Marriage Encounter, the organization that arranged the nominations.
“Here you have a couple who made a commitment, and stuck to it,” Worldwide Marriage Encounter spokesman Dick Baumbach said.