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The institution of marriage is a sacred and time-honored bond that has been the foundation of our society for generations. It is a fundamental building block of strong families and serves as a bedrock for the upbringing of well-adjusted children.

Each year, LFF honors Louisiana’s longest-known married couples as an effort to encourage healthy marriages, build stronger cultural support for the institution of marriage, and remind Louisiana that lifelong marriage benefits everyone. The recognition of enduring marriages exemplifies the traditional values of commitment, loyalty, and the enduring strength of the family unit. This celebration not only highlights the importance of lifelong matrimony but also serves as a reminder of the traditional principles that we all cherish.

LFF proudly announces that Ira and Margery Milan of New Orleans have won Louisiana’s Longest Married Couple title for the 2024 Louisiana Family Forum Marriage Hall of Fame! The Milan’s celebrated their 82nd Anniversary on January 17, 2024!

Louisiana's Longest Married Couple
Ira & Margery Milan

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Ira and Margery’s love story began in New Orleans, where Ira met Margery, the “Just Right” niece of his uncle’s wife. They tied the knot on January 17, 1942, at the Sacred Heart of Jesus Catholic Church on Canal Street. After the birth of their first son, Ira served as a Seabee in the U.S. Navy in the Philippines. Upon his return, they were blessed with a daughter and two more sons, and their home was always filled with music, friends, and family.

Today, both over 100 years old, Ira and Margery have a large and loving family, including eight grandchildren, ten great-grandchildren, and four great-great-grandchildren. Margery was an active choir member at Saint Louis King of France Church and later at Christ the King in Terrytown. Despite being unable to participate actively now, they are registered at St. Philip Neri Catholic Church in Metairie.

Their enduring love and rich family life are a testament to a lifetime of cherished memories and traditions.

Marriage Hall of Fame
Louisiana's 2024 Longest Married Couples

BURL & MARY CLARK - JENA - MARRIED: MARCH 10, 1946 - 77 YEARS

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Mary Martin (originally from Opelousas) met Burl Clark (of Jena) in 1943 at Foster Air Force Base in Victoria, Texas, while she and her mother visited her brother stationed there. They communicated through letters until Mr. Burl left the service, which included World War II. They were married in Opelousas on March 10, 1946, at the Rectory because Mr. Burl was Baptist, and they were unable to get married in the Catholic Church.

The Clarks lived in Opelousas when they first married & then moved two years later to Lebeau, where he worked in a filling station, and she worked in a cafe there. They moved to Jena, where Mr. Burl worked in department stores and the telephone company before beginning his career at Hunt Oil Company, from which he retired after 35 years. Mr. Burl and Mrs. Mary had a daughter, Gayle, and a son, Glenn, born into their union, but both are deceased.

They are members of East Jena Baptist Church in Jena, where Mr. Burl is a deacon and taught a Boy’s Sunday School class for years. Mrs. Mary has served her church very well as she was Church Secretary, Sunday School Adult Teacher, WMU President, and was dedicated to Vacation Bible School for 17 years. They have always put God first in their soon-to-be seventy-eight years of marriage.

Mr. Burl celebrates his birthday on July 31 (1923), and Mrs. Mary celebrates hers on April 9 (1926) surrounded by church members and family friends who have always been a blessing. It’s not uncommon to hear “Uncle Burl & Aunt Mary” when speaking of or in their presence as they have been a major part of so many lives, they have become family to lots.

They are still living at home but have helpers come in to help with cleaning and cooking. When they were more able, Mr. Burl enjoyed time spent on anything sports-related while Mrs. Mary always worked on a special quilt to give to others.

LLOYD & AUDREY SCHROEDER – JEFFERSON – MARRIED: JUNE 11, 1946 – 77 YEARS

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LELAND AND GUSSIE LACAZE – ROBELINE – MARRIED: FEBRUARY 15, 1947 – 77 YEARS

Leland and Gussie Lacaze will be married 77 years on February 15; they have 4 children, 10 grandchildren and 16 children, 4 great-grandchildren, and one arriving in August!

MARION & JEAN HESS – NEW ORLEANS – MARRIED: SEPTEMBER 20, 1947 – 76 YEARS

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Marion Ferdinand Hess, Sr., has lived a life that has defied the odds. He survived a premature birth, fighting in World War II, and two deadly hurricanes in his hometown of New Orleans. He has been married to his wife, Jean, for 76 years. At age 17, Marion enlisted in the army to fight in World War II. He was immediately deployed to Germany, where he landed under fire and served under General Patton until the war’s end.

Soon after returning home from the war, Hess met his future wife, Jean Catherine Meliet. On September 20, 1947, Marion and Jean tied the knot just one day after one of the deadliest hurricanes to hit the Gulf Coast slammed into New Orleans, a category 2 hurricane with sustained winds of 110 mph. Fifty-eight years before the infamous Hurricane Katrina, Hurricane George breached the 17th Street Canal, flooding buildings, causing massive power outages, and leaving standing water for weeks. Marion and Jean refused to cancel their wedding, and they were married the following night.

“There was no electricity,” recalled Jean, “so my mother placed lanterns around the church for lighting. She also hired a band for dancing and entertainment, and she placed lanterns all around the reception hall. From that day on, my mother treated Marion like her son.”

PAUL & YVONNE WILSON – MORGAN CITY – MARRIED: OCTOBER 6, 1947 – 76 YEARS

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 Paul L. Wilson Sr., 97, and Yvonne Williams Wilson, 95, married Oct. 6, 1947. They live in Siracusa Subdivision near Morgan City, LA. They have lived in the same house for over 57 years. Yvonne Wilson is a Morgan City native, while Paul Wilson was raised in Patterson, LA. The Wilsons have eight children: two daughters and six sons. Of the eight, five are living. They also have 20 grandchildren, over 62 great-grandchildren, and over 24 great-great-grandchildren.  Click here to read more of their story.

BILL & HAZEL EDMONSON – MERRYVILLE – MARRIED: APRIL 17, 1948 – 75 YEARS

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Bill is 95, and Hazel is 96 years old. Hazel recalls a time when she was working in DeRidder when she received a call from a friend. Her friend told her there was someone who wanted to meet her. Later, Hazel decided to meet him at a local drug store to enjoy a Coke, which began their many years of sharing their lives as a couple.

Bill is a Korean War Veteran and served in the Navy. He served his first 18 months on the island of Guam. When he returned to the States, he was assigned to a destroyer called the USS Lofberg. Their oldest daughter was born while he was stationed on this ship, which was in an area at the time known as the Formosa Strait. Life started as a family when he returned home from the service, and a few years later, their youngest daughter was born. Bill’s jobs kept him away from home a lot, but through it all, Hazel was faithful to raise the girls in Church, work, and serve in many capacities. Through all these times, God has been in their lives, along with their commitment to their wedding vows of 75 years. In the years with their family, they continue to be VERY BLESSED by their Lord!

Gardening has been Bill’s hobby for years. He not only kept his own yard neatly groomed and full of seasonal blooms but also helped landscape other neighborhood homes and public facilities in the area. He nurtured other less experienced gardeners in their horticultural pursuits by sharing his knowledge and seeds and cuttings from his garden.

Bill and Hazel sit on the second row of Calvary Baptist Church of Merryville, La., and listen intently to Bro. Jim Miers. The church enjoys their input on matters. Ms. Hazel keeps the table in the Fellowship Hall decorated for the four seasons.

RICHARD & GERALDINE VAN TIEM – SHREVEPORT – MARRIED: FEBRUARY 26, 1949 – 74 YEARS

Dick and Gerry Van Tiem will soon be celebrating their 75th wedding anniversary. They were married on February 26, 1949, at St. Catherine of Sienna Catholic Church in Shreveport, LA. They spent their honeymoon at Schumpert Hospital tending to Gerry’s mother because the day before the wedding, she had become seriously ill. Later, Dick often joked, ‘her mother would have done anything to stop her daughter from marrying a Yankee from Michigan!’

The two met at Barksdale Air Force Base when Dick was stationed there, and Gerry was a civilian employee. After they married, they made their home here in Shreveport. Dick worked as a letter carrier for the United States Postal Service for 39 years, while Gerry reared their four children: Michael Van Tiem, David Van Tiem, Julia Van Tiem Martin, and Brian Van Tiem (now deceased). They have six grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.

They are charter members of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary Catholic Church, which closed in 1994. This came to be in 1952 when Dick and Gerry were members of a group who gathered weekly to pray the Rosary together in their Caddo Heights neighborhood. The members recognized a need for a neighborhood parish since St Catherine of Sienna and St John Berchmans were both a distance away. The Rosary group was instrumental in persuading the bishop of Alexandria to establish a new parish, fittingly named Holy Rosary. Each helped build the parish: fundraising, ushering, choir, and membership on the parish council. Their children and grandchildren attended the parish school. Gerry Van Tiem has sung in several parish choirs and served as a lector, while Dick was a Eucharistic minister.

They continued their service when they became members of St John Berchmans in 1975. When asked how long they have served in these roles, they both commented, “From the very beginning; ever since the Church has allowed us to step into the sanctuary to do so.”

NELVIL LEO & MARY THEARD - COVINGTON - MARRIED: DECEMBER 22, 1949 - 74 YEARS

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Mary was 14 when she met Nelvil at a school dance. A friend of his convinced him to go. He never went again because, as he told his friend, he had met the girl he would marry. It took Mary a little longer to decide, but she did.

They married when Mary was only 16, and Nelvil was 18. They raised five children, who gave them eight grandchildren, and are the great-grandparents of 19 living children and one deceased. Nelvil is active in the Knights of Columbus and has been The Knight of the Year on more than one occasion. Mary is a retired real estate agent and a Church volunteer. They are always very supportive of their children’s activities and serve as CYO chaperones and Scout leaders with enthusiasm. They continued their support of their grandkids’ activities and never missed a sporting or dance event. They are both originally from New Orleans but now reside in Covington, Louisiana.

WILLIAM & BARBARA PATTERSON - SHREVEPORT - MARRIED: JUNE 5, 1950 - 73 YEARS

ANGELO JAMES & JOSIE LEWIS - SHREVEPORT - MARRIED OCTOBER 29, 1950 - 73 YEARS

Angelo says, “We met on the trolley. She was getting out of 8th grade, and I was graduating from Fair Park High School in 1946. I passed my draft exam, was drafted, and we decided to get married. She was 18 and I was 21. We were married at Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Shreveport. Our son was born on February 5, 1952. We have lived in Louisiana our whole lives.”

KENNETH & JOANNE MCBRIDE - LECOMPTE - MARRIED: MARCH 24, 1951 - 72 YEARS

Mrs. Jo Ann met Mr. Kenneth when he was visiting her church. He saw Mrs.Jo Ann on stage and wanted to know who she was, so he asked her aunt, “Who’s that girl?” The rest is history!

Mr. Kenneth always put Mrs. Jo Ann first, but not above the Lord. He was her caretaker as she went through cancer and has been her steadfast support.

BOBBY EARL & PAT HICKS - MARION - MARRIED: JANUARY 12, 1952 - 72 YEARS

Bobby Earl Hicks and Pat M. Crow were married on January 12, 1952, in Farmerville, La. Bobby was from the Salem community, and Pat lived in Marion. Some of the “boys from across the DeLoutre” would ride over to Marion as they were dating some girls from here. Bobby saw Pat, and she sparked a flame in his heart that still burns to this day. They dated for two years, and he asked her to marry him. They planned to elope, but instead of a marriage license, the clerk handed him a consent form for her parents to sign, as Pat was only 15 at that time. Bobby came to pick her up & as daddy was taking biscuits out of the oven, Bobby asked permission to marry. Mr. Crow called to his wife, “Ruth, I think you need to see this!” Mother agreed to sign after Bobby agreed to love and care for her.

Pat continues with some good advice to others: listen to God, put God first as head of household, compromise with each other and make sure to like and love the person you plan to marry.

DANIEL & INA BERLIN - COVINGTON - MARRIED: MAY 10, 1952 - 71 YEARS

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Daniel Stokes Berlin and Ina Clarice Beverly Berlin were married on May 10, 1952, at St. Peter’s Catholic Church in Covington, Louisiana. He was 23, and she was 20.

Dan and Ina first met at Citizens Bank in Covington, where they were both working as tellers. He was the city boy recently transplanted to the Northshore from New Orleans, the youngest of four boys. She was the country girl from Waldheim, the second eldest of eight siblings. As the story goes, Dan found Ina beautiful from the start. But it was Ina who was encouraged by a friend to ask Dan out to a Sadie Hawkins hayride, their first of many dates to come. When it came time to propose, Dan brought Ina to eat at Bechac’s in Mandeville. They took a walk along the lakefront, and there he asked her to marry him. And the rest is 71 years of history!

As long-time residents of Covington, Dan and Ina have cared for their local community through various acts of service. Dan has served in the Holy Name Society, Parish Council, and as a lector in his church. Ina volunteered as Treasurer for the Ladies Altar Society for ten years. To this day, Ina continues to be an amazing southern cook and seamstress.

In 2001, Dan felt especially honored to receive The Order of St. Louis IX Award from Archbishop Schulte in recognition of his leadership in his parish. He also received the Paul Harris Fellow Award for the Rotary Club in Covington. For most of his life, Dan worked primarily in the banking business until his retirement from First National Bank. Later on, Dan served on the board of Citizens Bank for several years.

Now 95 and 92, respectively, Dan and Ina have 3 children, 10 grandchildren, and 12 great-grandchildren. They both enjoy gardening, doing crosswords, and spending time with family.

REV. TONY & MARJORIE ROSS - LAKE CHARLES - MARRIED: JUNE 3, 1953 - 70 YEARS

Rev. Tony and Marjorie Ross have lived a life of devotion first to Jesus and then to each other. While Tony was serving in the Korean War, he was in occupied Japan, and he picked out some china and had it shipped home for his bride-to-be. They started their life together in rural Oklahoma. They pastored and lived a life of ministry for over 60 years, with Tony preaching his last sermon just a few years ago. The Ross’s have 3 children, 6 grandchildren, and 12 great-grandchildren.

At 92 years of age, the Rosses are blessed to maintain their independence, driving to church every Sunday and Wednesday. A recent comment on Facebook described them as the epitome of integrity.

The Rosses currently attend Westlake Pilgrim Nazarene in Westlake, Louisiana.

MATTHEW & YVONNE MONTZ - MORGAN CITY - MARRIED: JULY 25, 1953 - 70 YEARS

Matt and Yvonne met in middle school in Hahnville, LA. Matt sat behind Yvonne in class and would pull her hair to get her attention. He served his country in the U.S. military during the Korean War. Yvonne was a school teacher and retired from the Louisiana school system. After retirement, Matt and Yvonne bought a camper and spent their 60s and early 70s traveling the country camping. They settled back in Morgan City, LA, when that adventure came to an end. They continued to live in their camper and manage a campground until almost 90 years old.

Yvonne has been a member of the Sacred Heart of Jesus Roman Catholic Church in Morgan City. She volunteered in the church’s thrift store well into her late 80s.

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