GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — It is a rare milestone most people won’t get a chance to celebrate, but Tuesday marks a monumental anniversary for one West Michigan couple.
Dick and Maxine Rafferty met when they were just 22 years old. They are now both 97.
“We’ve been very fortunate and blessed to survive this long,” Dick Rafferty said.
The pair met in 1946 when Maxine Rafferty and her friend were taking the train to Ann Arbor while Dick Rafferty was heading to his new assignment for the Navy.
“I had just been released from active duty on the west coast, assigned to Grosse Ile Air Station. They gave me a week off at home, so I was here taking the train to Detroit to the station. They were going to Ann Arbor,” he explained. “I was in uniform. As I walked into the car, I heard this girl say hello there.”
“I thought he looked pretty darn handsome in his uniform, but I actually didn’t know he heard me. I did not mean for him to hear me, but it’s OK because from then on… it worked out,” Maxine Rafferty said.
After dating for a year, the couple tied the knot on June 7, 1947. They have been building a life together for 75 years.
“I was blessed with my three children. I loved being a mother. I just loved it,” she said.
Now, they have four grandchildren and six great-grandchildren. They have also traveled extensively over the decades. From train rides through Europe to sailing on windjammers, they recalled the times they have shared experiencing the world together.
“That’s what we mostly have in common is our travel,” he said. “Actually, we like to do everything together.”
Golfing, skiing, hiking; you name it, they have probably done it. As many laughs and good times the two have shared over the years, they’ve also had their fair share of challenges. That included losing a daughter when she was just 11 years old.
“There are going to be ups and downs in marriage. Many, many, and you just have to ride them out,” Dick Rafferty said. “If we had bad times, we had bad times. If we had good times, we had good times.”
Like any other couple, they do not always see eye to eye.
“He realizes I’m always right,” she joked.
But they have learned time is too precious to sweat the small stuff. “I think one of the most important things is that we laugh a lot. We laugh at each other. We laugh at ourselves. We get upset with each other, but we work it out,” he said. “We’re probably the happiest now we’ve ever been.”