Young couples looking toward marriage can take a page or two out of George and Barbara Mitchell’s book.
The two longtime Grand County residents celebrated their 70th anniversary on May 11.
Only about 6 percent of American couples make it to their 50th anniversary, according to a 2008 U.S. Census Bureau survey that only goes to 50 years, the most recent of such a survey found.
Barbara said the secret to the longevity of their relationship is love and respect.
“It’s a funny thing, you know,” George said. “We never had really fought, but today she was mad enough at me.”
The two laughed as Barbara recounted how George had tried to make his own breakfast, which ended with nothing but a mess in the kitchen.
“Afterwards, I laughed and smiled, and he said that was better,” Barbara said.
George and Barbara first met in 1939, when Barbara, originally from Baxter Springs, Kan., moved with her family to Parshall.
George, 16 at the time, was working in his parent’s grocery store, the Mitchell Store, as a clerk. It was there that George and 13-year-old Barbara met.
“He taught me how to drive, he taught me how to hunt, he taught me how to handle a gun, and we roamed the hills and gathered antlers,” Barbara said. “I don’t know if you’d call it a first date.”
The two had lots of mutual interests, which Barbara said was important to their relationship.
“We loved the same things,” she said. “We hiked. We camped. We did some traveling.”
Barbara said the two never really dated.
“Every time that we went someplace, it was either with his folks or my brother and his brother or my folks,” she said.
The two were able to spend more time together when George got a job with the theater in Kremmling, working as a projectionist.
“I would go with him when he went to Breckenridge and Walden and so forth to show movies,” she said.
Unfortunately for the young couple, they were living in a tumultuous world.
The United States was drawn into World War II following the attack on Pearl Harbor in December of 1941.
George enlisted and the two were married while he was on leave on May 11, 1944, in Longmont, Colo. George would eventually serve 33 months in the European “theater,” seeing action in France, Austria and Germany.
It would seem that being separated for so long could be detrimental to a young married couple, but not so, said Barbara.
“It was the sign of the times,” Barbara said. “There were lots of young marriages. I had faith that he’d be home and that we were going to go on with our lives. Faith carried us through I guess.”
A shared life in Parshall
After George received an honorable discharge from the army, the couple operated his family’s store in Parshall until it was sold.
George then went to work for Grand County Road and Bridge for 39 years.
Barbara said she was a stay-at-home mom until the couple’s four children were in high school. She then went to work for the Middle Park Bank in Granby for 21 years.
After retiring, the two volunteered for the Grand County Historical Association for 26 years.
The couple lives in a beige house off of Grand Avenue in Parshall, where they’ve been since 1952. They have seven grand children and 14 great-grand children, the oldest of whom is 16.
George is hard of hearing, so Barbara writes down questions for him to answer on a small notepad. When asked whether they have an advice on marriage, Barbara said she wasn’t really sure.
“I don’t know that I’ve ever thought much about it,” she said. “I’ve been married longer than I’ve lived, almost.“
She instead deferred to George. A wide grin broke across his face as he read the notepad.
“Stay single,” he said, laughing.
They both chuckled for a moment.
“He has a sense of humor,” Barbara added.
Hank Shell can be reached at 970-887-3334 ext. 19610.
“It’s a funny thing, you know. We never had really fought, but today she was mad enough at me.”
On being married to same woman for 70 years