Thursday July 5, 2012

DALTON -- Eighty years after vowing "till death do us part," Marlo and Cleta Scher merhorn are still together.

The husband and wife, both 101, recently celebrated an anniversary so rare that there is no precious metal or stone to do it justice. Among the longest-married couples still alive, the Schermerhorns re main devoted to one another in their second century of life.

At their home at Sugar Hill assisted living in Dalton, Marlo Schermerhorn described the shared joie de vivre, faithfulness and respect that have fortified the union that has lasted longer than most people can expect to live.

"We always wanted to keep busy and do interesting things -- together," he said.

The couple's early travels now constitute a jaunt through the history books. For their honeymoon in 1932, the Schermerhorns drove from New York to California, stopping at the unfinished Mount Rushmore along the way, then picking up a couple souvenir sweatshirts from the 1932 Olympics in Los Angeles.

After retiring from their jobs as public school music teachers, the pair traveled around the world, often by freighter, visiting far-flung locales from New Zealand to Bangkok to Paraguay. They once took a bus from London through the Middle East to New Delhi, India, and during the Cold War made a road trip through Eastern Europe.

"Everything they've done was always together," said their only child, 78-year-old Devon "Pete" Schermerhorn.

A North Carolina husband and wife cited by the Guinness Book of World Records as the longest-married couple were wed for 86 years until the husband died last year. It's not clear who now holds the title, but the Schermerhorns' 80 years in matrimony put them in the upper echelon of the statistic.

Although they can't recall all the details of their courtship, the Schermerhorns still vividly remember the day they first met, on the street where they both lived as college students in Ithaca, N.Y. in 1928. She wore a raincoat, he wore trousers three inches too short -- "I was a country bumpkin," Marlo Schermerhorn said. They exchanged a single pleasantry.

Four years later, on June 29, 1932, they wed.

"I thought a lot about her and she undoubtedly thought a lot about me," Marlo Schermerhorn said. "So it wasn't hard for us to close the gap and be married."

For most of their marriage the couple lived in a suburb of Buffalo, N.Y., and moved to the Berkshires to be with family two years ago after deciding they could no longer drive on their own.

At the assisted living facility where they live now, the 101-year-olds are known for their doting behavior, constantly reaching for one another's hand to hold.

"They're a fascinating couple," said Lisa Gladu, clerical coordinator at Sugar Hill, "and they're still very, very much in love."

To reach Amanda Korman:
akorman@berkshireeagle.com
(413) 496-6243
On Twitter: @mandface