Marshall and Winnie Kuykendall of New Mexico – a couple celebrating their 82nd wedding anniversary this Valentine's Day – were honored recently as the national winners of a “Longest Married Couple” contest.
The couple told CNA on Feb. 11 that the recognition shows that “not many people stay married” these days.
“When we got married we took an oath to stay together until death do us part,” they said. “And it's recorded in the courthouse!”
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.
Mr. Kuykendall said that the two “got along well” in high school and that Mrs. Kuydendall “thought I was a pretty good catch.” Mrs. Kuykendall reflected that over the last 82 years, one of their biggest joys in life was starting a family.
The Worldwide Marriage Encounter held a ceremony and celebration in the Kuykendalls' honor on Feb. 12, at the Hampton Inn in their hometown of Lordsburg, N.M. Scott and Karen Seaborn, who serve as the United States Ecclesial Team for the marriage enrichment organization, expressed their congratulations to the couple, concluding the nationwide search that drew more than 300 total applicants, including nominees from every U.S. state.
Marshall and Winnie, who are respectively 103 and 102, travelled to the U.S. House of Representatives in Washington, D.C., where the Seaborns presented them with memento gifts, a certificate of achievement and a plague of recognition from the “longest married” project. They were also honored by the governor, state legislative officials and the Lordsburg mayor.
Over 45 family members and friends attended the presentation, which was broadcast live by a large number of radio stations across the U.S.
"It is truly an honor to have shared time with Marshall and Winnie and their family. It is a moment that we will never forget," the Seaborns said.
Out of the 312 nominations for the nationwide contest, 100 couples have been married for between 70 and 79 years, while 155 other nominees could boast anywhere from 60 to 69 years.
Dick and Dianne Baumbach, two Marriage Encounter weekend organizers who ran the contest, told EWTN News in November 2010 that it was specially designed 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/.