Our communities are fortunate to be home for many couples who are living their married years to the fullest. It is truly an honor to experience these years with the Eigstis and Hieberts. This article was recently published in the Hesston Record. We are proud of our residents and inspired by their commitment to one another!
As they continue their love story, it is not uncommon to see Orlin and Ina Eigsti strolling hand in hand around the Schowalter Villa community and the beautiful Dyck Arboretum, which is adjacent to their home. Ray and Elsie Hiebert can often be found chatting with friends over a meal and a warm cup of coffee in the Harvest Dining Room.
The two Schowalter Villa couples collectively represent 133 years of successful marriage. There are no better teachers for a few lessons on love.
Ray and Elsie Hiebert met while Elsie was in nursing school. She was training at a hospital and Ray was her patient.
“He asked me if I would go out with him and I said yes,” said Elsie. “But I didn’t want to get married until I passed my state boards.”
Around Valentine’s Day 64 years ago, Elsie received a strand of pearls from Ray. The necklace adorned her neck on March 14, 1952 as they were married at Emmaus Mennonite Church with several hundred guests in attendance. Elsie admitted she was a little nervous; she wanted everything to go smoothly on that special day.
“I made my own wedding dress. That is all I did before the wedding, but my mother took care of the food part,” said Elsie. “We had a nice day, but some family from Goessel couldn’t come because it was icy.”
Orlin and Ina Eigsti were married in their future farm house on Feb. 22, 1948 at the age of 21 and 19. The couple met when they were in high school. At first, Orlin, who was a senior at the time, was interested in Ina’s older sister. Then, he saw Ina at an assembly.
“She came in and I saw her and I said to myself, ‘Oh, I believe she is something,’” Orlin said with a smile. “Then her church had some revival meetings so I went up there, but not necessarily to hear the preacher. I finally got up enough nerve to ask her if she would like to go home and have a treat or something and she said yes.”
The Eigstis and Hieberts both lived on farms at some point in the marriages. On the farm, they worked and cleaned together. They said that is where the solid foundations of their marriages were built.
“We did a lot together that first year. She helped me outside on the farm so I said I would help her with her dishes inside. One time some people drove in. She told me, ‘Put your towel down quick,’” said Orlin. “Back then, it was considered lazy if a woman had to have help from her husband. So I put that towel down and went in the other room so they wouldn’t see I was helping with the supper dishes.”
Before tying the knot, the Eigstis said it is important for couples to discuss future plans such as church, children and family boundaries.
For those who have already married, the Hieberts advise traveling together.
“The highlight of our life was traveling. We went to Mexico, Canada, Europe and China,” said Ray. “Definitely travel with your spouse after retirement.”
Both couples say the secret to making a marriage last is being respectful of one another, learning to apologize and talking out issues when they arise.
“Learn to say you’re sorry, give a kiss and move on,” said Ina.