Edith and Duke Jardon were the winners of Volunteers of America's senior sweetheart contest. On Valentine's Day, they enjoyed a specially prepared meal and a beautiful arrangement of red roses.
Edith, 95, and Duke, 96, have been married 75 years. Edith is mostly blind. According to a nomination from Christa Moulder, their care provider, Duke gets up every day and helps his wife get dressed. Then they head into the kitchen and he fixes her cereal for breakfast and they share half a blueberry doughnut.
"Without question they are the strongest couple I know," Moulder said. "Up until this last year when Edith fell and broke her hip, Duke took care of all the household chores and the cooking and grocery shopping. Truly they are most amazing people I have met in my life."
Other nominees included Jim and Ann Edwards, Dick and Arlys Drexel, Alvena and Ron Richard, Bruce and Myrna Bertram, Marian and Chet Brown, Harry and Ruth White, and Hank and Kay Burlingame.
Hank and Kay met 51 years ago in Illinois, when she was 19 and he was 21. There was instant connection, but life separated them. They each married, had children, and divorced and/or were widowed. Through the years they each thought of one another and wished they could be together.
Through the intervention of friends, Hank contacted Kay, then went to Illinois to visit her. On April 10, 2014, he flew Kay to Grand Junction and they began their life together. On Dec. 21, 2015, he took her to the courthouse on business and after a few minutes said to her, "Come here, do you want to get married?" He had already gotten the license and talked to the clerk. Kay obviously said yes.
Marian and Chet Brown of Delta were married just three weeks after Marian's 80th birthday on Valentine's Day 2005. Marian married a younger man -- Chet was 77.
All the couples were recognized as special people who love, care for, and depend on each other in an admirable way. Throughout many years of marriage, they have shared many joys, sorrows, moments of laughter, and times of difficulty. Whether they're sharing laughter or tears, their mutual respect is always present.
Commitment, compassion, forgiveness, and tenacity are some of the traits that define these special couples. They are an inspiration to their families and to their church communities. All are worthy of recognition by Volunteers of America.