True Love Stories: Contrasting personalities make for long, happy life

EDITOR’S NOTE:

This is another in an occasional series of love stories spotlighting both newlyweds and couples celebrating anniversaries.

Treat each other as you would treat a good friend SEmD with respect for differences and the sense that anything’s more fun together — and couplehood won’t feel like work at all.

The Kellys should know. Close friends since they were seventh-graders at Enumclaw Junior-Senior High School, the pair celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary this summer.

And after all these years, they plain enjoy each other’s company.

“We have so much fun doing whatever we do,” Larry said.

“Which is nothing, sometimes,” Suzanne added.

The Kellys’ son, Tim, who lives in Marysville, marvels sometimes at the way his folks act.

“They look at each other like they’re 13 years old,” he said, “and have a crush on each other.”

High school

Suzanne, for her part, has no trouble remembering exactly how she felt one night in high school when she realized Larry Kelly was the one.

“He kissed me good night,” at the end of a drive home, “and I was his,” Suzanne recalled.

When they graduated from high school in 1959, their parents wanted them to go to separate colleges, perhaps thinking they were too attached too young.

So off Larry went to the University of Idaho while Suzanne went to what is now Western Washington University in Bellingham.

“I lasted one quarter,” Suzanne said. After that time apart, “we decided we were getting married.”

Married at 19

So they did, at age 19, a year out of high school, Aug. 6, 1960.

“We had no plan,” Larry said.

“We had $45,” added his wife.

“We didn’t know where we were going,” said Larry, “and we didn’t care,” provided they were a team.

He went to work at the Boeing Co. in Seattle, and within a year they had Tim; by the time they turned 25, they had had their daughter Kimberly. Larry later went into the insurance industry, working at Safeco and then TransAmerica; he had opportunities to transfer to Los Angeles, but Suzanne didn’t want to raise their children there.

Then, one night about 37 years ago, he told his wife he wanted to take her out “for a drink,” and she knew something was up.

Larry proposed a move to another Angeles: the place one could say is the polar opposite of Southern California.

He had an opportunity to join Syd Tozier and Associates Insurance Brokers in Port Angeles, and so the family packed up and came out to the Peninsula in 1974.

At first, Suzanne didn’t like it here at all.

But then the Kellys joined the Newcomers Club, and developed long-standing friendships; Larry got involved with the Lions Club, and their friends and activities changed their feelings about life here.

Today, they still enjoy Port Angeles as much as they enjoy each other — but many of their friends have divorced.

Secret to relationship

So what is the secret? The Kellys’ grandson Tyler, now 20, asked them during the 50th anniversary cruise they took on Lake Washington last month.

“Fall in love with someone you like,” Larry said.

Then, remember to think of your partner first.

Can it be that simple? For the Kellys it was, and is– while they do have their differences.

“He’s the tortoise, and I’m the hare,” Suzanne said.

“She’s the Type A, and I’m probably Type D,” quipped Larry. “She can multi-task, while I single-task. We’re opposites, but one helps the other.”

Larry is the computer expert, for example, while Suzanne is the chef.

“I’m the CEO of the kitchen sink,” Larry said. “She cooks; I eat and I clean up.”

In summertime, the Kellys take walks and bike rides; through the long, dark winters, they work on home improvement projects together.

In 50 years, “there have been some tough times,” Larry acknowledged.

Yet through those, “we communicate very well . . . We only have so much time left,” so the pair puts each other’s happiness at the top of the priority list.

The bottom line

“You love each other. That’s the bottom line,” Suzanne added.

“You have to give and take; it can’t be just about you. You’ve got to try to understand the other person.”

A friend recently watched Suzanne and Larry together and remarked, “She’s old-fashioned: She waits on him.”

Old-fashioned is fine — and both Kellys own up to it. Suzanne likes to pamper her man, while Larry values gentlemanly manners such as teaching the “grandboys” — Tim’s son Tyler and Kimberly’s son Alexander — to open doors.

Those grandchildren “are the joys of our lives,” Suzanne added. “We loved being parents,” so grandparenthood is a whole new gift.

Tim, now 49, said he wasn’t always an easy kid. But no matter what situations he got himself into, his parents’ support was steadfast.

“Their love is unconditional,” he said.

When Larry retired in 2007 after 40 years in the insurance business — and after Suzanne retired from 30 years as a bookkeeper — he remarked on how much work his wife was still doing around the house.

“He said, ‘How have you been doing all of this yourself?'” Suzanne recalled.

To which she replied, “If you see something that needs to be done, do it.”

“But,” at age 69, “I’m losing my eyesight,” Larry joked.

Clearly, that sense of humor keeps the Kellys from getting bound up by their differences.

And now, with the addition of a new Nissan Murano, a car the couple acquired after their old one was destroyed in an accident last spring, Larry jokes that there’s another woman in his life: she of the voice coming from the vehicle’s Global Positioning System.

He knows better than to listen to the GPS woman, of course.

“She knows direction,” Larry said, looking admiringly at his wife.

________

Features Editor Diane Urbani de la Paz can be reached at 360-417-3550 or at [email protected]

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