story list .......



"I had my one-and-onlythat one-in-a-millionand there's not another around."

love—the kind about which timeless tales are told—can be a bit pricey these days and, for that matter, a little complex, what with all the scientific research available to help secure the best possible mate.

Just consider the profiles and comprehensive compatibility tests accessed by more than 32 million members at only two major online dating sites.

Also, new research confirms the value of a kiss: Men and women can, through the simple touching of lips, know if their genetics are compatible for childbearing.

"The moment of a kiss, there is a rich exchange of postural, physical information," Gordon Gallup, a psychologist at State University of New York, said in a recent Time magazine article.

But the senior men and woman at a Valentine's Day luncheon Feb. 7 sponsored by the local unit of the Salvation Army had much simpler stories to tell.

Here, we share but three of them.

Hank and Eva Bentsen

Hank and Eva Bentsen were no Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire when they met at a naval base in Oxnard, Calif., in 1952. But they did love to square dance.

Eva was living on the West Coast with family friends when she and their daughter headed to a local community center for dance lessons, and "along came a couple of sailors."

Her friend parted with her new beau after a few dates. But Eva and her blond Norwegian from Naval Construction Battalion No. 2 kept dancing.

They danced and danced—sometimes every day of the week—until they decided four months later to marry. They honeymooned among the redwoods at Sequoia National Park.

The Bentsens were drawn to each other for other reasons: shared Christian beliefs and Scandinavian backgrounds. He spent three years in Norway during his early childhood, and she spent three years in Sweden.

Eva had been married once and had a young son; Hank had never been married. Together, they had two more kids.

Church parties, a little candy and a bunch of roses were the rule on Valentine's Day's at the Bentsen house until Eva—considering herself resourceful—decided they should use the money for something else.

But she has yet to forget the pretty pink outfit Hank once bought her, so suitable for work. Or the time he bought her those "lovely pearls."

Sixteen years after they married, in 1968, the couple returned to Colorado, where Eva had been raised. The couple live in Morrison.

On their 50th wedding anniversary, they headed back to Lake Elowin in Sequoia National Park.

"I think it kind of brought us the springtime - our springtime," Eva said.

Another five years have since passed.

Did she imagine, when she married Hank at age 25, that they would one day celebrate 55 years of marriage?

"Oh no," said Eva, 81. "When I was young, I thought 50 was old and I would be ready to kick the bucket at 60."

Hank, four years her junior, didn't worry so much about age.

"I knew one thing—I was determined that it would be a lifelong situation," Hank said of their relationship.

They don't feel old.

"As I reach those numbers, old age keeps getting pushed up a few more years," Eva said.

What has kept their relationship strong for more than half a century?

"We depend on the Lord," Eva said.

Hank's childhood was a rocky one: His mother fell ill and died when he was 4, and his father, struggling to cope with that loss along with the Depression, found his comfort in a bottle.

That's why Hank's marriage to Eva has been a balm to his soul.

"She has been good for me; she has changed me," he said. "She's steady like a rock, or anchor, or whatever you want to call it—she's just the better part of this twosome."

After his retirement, the couple tried once again to dance. But the square-dance moves they had learned in their heyday were different than the ones folks do now.

"We danced a little while; it was fun," Eva remembers. "But it wasn't near the fun we had when we first met."

Sharon and Norm Milford

Norm Milford was singing in a Denver church choir when he caught the eye of a tall, willowy creature during the summer of 1968.

Sharon Lyons was 28, a teacher at an elementary school in Englewood. Norm, four years her senior, was a teacher at Evergreen Junior High.

They drove to the mountains that summer day, a journey that turned into a 5-mile hike as they reveled in each other's company. Norm was struck by Sharon's poise and dignity; she was moved by his gentleness and air of stability. She had never been married; he had once before.

When they reached a watering hole, in a stand of aspen, they marveled at the site of so many paw prints—from creatures that had returned there again and again.

They snatched up a piece of driftwood as a memento of that day on their way back down the trail, and a year later they were married.

It was a glass of ice tea that cooled their bliss shortly after they wed. A difference of opinion about the way to mix in sugar produced, to their surprise, a heart-wrenching confrontation.

For a moment, the common values they shared—from religion to parenting—could not hide their differences.

But that's just a memory for this couple, now married 38 years.
Through it all—the birth of twins and their graduation, the failing health and death of aging loved ones—this couple found ways to keep their relationship fresh.

Each week, for the last 15 years the Milfords have returned to dating.
The rendezvous can be simple or adventurous—from hikes or dinner out to a camping trip, concerts or an overnight stay at the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park.

They take turns, on alternate weeks, planning each occasion.

"My girlfriends ask where I get the ideas," Sharon said. "I listen to the TV or read the newspapers."

Sharon worries that young people today who live in a world filled with opportunities for "instant gratification," may lose sight of the work necessary to preserve long-lasting relationships.

But Norm—with that air of stability about him—tends to think true love will never stray far from its roots.

"Some of the terms and parameters might change," he said. "But the concept of a man and woman complementing each other … will always be there."

On their 25th anniversary, the Milford's replicated the hike they took the day they first met.

So much had happened in their lives over two and a half decades—so much transition and change. But when they found the stand of aspens at the watering hole, everything was virtually the same.

Sharon was so moved—so reassured by the "eternal quality of nature"—that she wept.

Kay and John Kalberer

Franklin D. Roosevelt had just defeated Herbert Hoover in a landslide victory for the presidency when Kay Herman—a shy young woman from Queens—accepted an invitation to a Thanksgiving dance from a stranger.

Kay "hesitated and hesitated"—she knew little about the man named Jack, who had recently broken an engagement, and nothing about the tavern where he planned to take her.

But he was a persistent caller, that November of 1932, and she had no other suitors. Overeager friends had threatened to pair her with other strangers if she couldn't find a date on her own.

Her decision to go out with Jack that night proved lucky for John Kalberer, who had gone to the same pub with a cousin and some pals.

Kay's beauty mesmerized him as soon as she walked through that door.

"Wow," he said to his cousin Frank. "That's the girl for me."

Kay danced with both men that Thanksgiving, but it was John—who begged to see her again—who won her heart.

Kay married John five months later, and remembers those details as if it were yesterday—though she is now 97 and John is gone.

There life together was a modest existence—he worked his way up in the real estate business, while she was a stay-at-home mom—until both children were grown and she became a switchboard operator.

"When I had my first child, I didn't even have a crib; we had to put her in a dresser drawer the first couple of weeks," Kay said. "Years ago people didn't make much money—maybe 20 bucks a week, and we were paying 30 in rent. You grew up the hard way and appreciated what you got."

For more than 50 years, Kay appreciated John.

"We respected one another," she said. "When we got angry, I wouldn't talk—I wasn't a fighter—but my husband would say, 'Let's kiss and make up.' "

Sometimes, his response would be different.

"He'd say, 'You know Kay, you are even prettier when you get angry,' and then he would take me and hug me.' "

Or, as a reminder of their first date, he would sing the words to a popular song: "It had to be you."

After Kay's father died, her mother came to stay for several years, and John's love never wavered—for her or her mother.

Kay lost him at 72, when his heart gave out, after a Thanksgiving dinner at their daughter's house. He had just written a check to his granddaughter—a little birthday gift—when he looked at Kay, smiled, then dropped his head to his chest.

That was nearly 25 years ago, but Kay has found no other love—even though many men, since then, have been attracted to her like a "magnet," especially when she was a member of the American Legion.

"I was a strict Catholic," Kay said, offering up one explanation. "My husband's gone, (but) he's looking down on me—I wouldn't want to cheat on him."

But that's not the real reason, she confesses from her home in Evergreen, where she lives with her granddaughter Linda Ann Rogers.

"I had my one-and-only—that one-in-a-million—and there's not another around."








































































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