Longest-married American couple to celebrate 82 years on Valentine's Day

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Worldwide Marriage Encounter has announced that Marshall and Winnie Kuykendall of Lordsburg, New Mexico, are the national winners of its “Longest Married Couple” contest. The couple will celebrate their 82nd wedding anniversary on February 14, 2011.

Scott and Karen Seaborn, who serve as the United States Ecclesial Team for Worldwide Marriage Encounter, expressed their congratulations to the couple on Feb. 7, concluding the nationwide search that drew more than 300 total applicants, including nominees from every U.S. state.

“What a privilege and honor it is to recognize the Kuykendalls for their commitment to marriage,” they reflected. “They made a commitment to each other 82 years ago, and they have kept that commitment over these many years. They truly are a sign of hope to us all.”

The marriage enrichment organization will hold a ceremony and celebration in the Kuykendalls' honor on Feb. 12, at the Hampton Inn in their hometown. Winners from each individual state will also receive certificates and personal recognition from the couples who run Worldwide Marriage Encounter.

The Kuykendalls, both originally from Arizona, married in 1929, just five months after they met. Marshall and Winnie have one daughter, who has been married for 56 years herself, and two grandchildren.

Three other couples won their states with marriages of 80 years apiece: Ivan and Doris Nishimura of Hawaii, Ralph and Dorothy Richards of Louisiana, and Paul and Ellenor Whiteman of West Virginia.

Out of the 312 nominations, 100 couples have been married for between 70 and 79 years, while 155 other nominees could boast anywhere from 60 to 69 years.

“The number of years these couples are married is just awesome,” the Seaborns remarked. “What a testament to having a commitment to a long marriage!”

Dick and Dianne Baumbach, two Marriage Encounter weekend organizers who ran the contest, told EWTN News in November 2010 that it was specially intended to “give younger couples hope for their own marriage.”

The Baumbachs gave Marriage Encounter much of the credit for their own 44 years so far, stating that their original weekend rescued their love during a difficult time in 1973. Couples from all religious and non-religious backgrounds attend the weekends, to improve their communication skills and deepen their dedication to one another.

Marriage Encounter's presence in more than 90 countries makes it the world's largest pro-marriage movement. More information on its programs, as well as the state and national longest-marriage winners, is available at http://www.wwme.org/.

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