Marvin and Eunice Proctor are still in love after 56 years of marriage.

It was a hot day on August 26, 1961, when Marvin and Eunice Proctor said their "I Do's" in the Haviland Methodist Church. Now, some 56 years later, their marriage is still going strong.

"We're still best of friends," Eunice said.

Their secret for their long and happy marriage includes each saying "I love you" every day, have respect for each other, work hard together, know each other well and have similar values, be committed to staying together when going into marriage with no options for separation or divorce. Above all, they would advise couples to not live together before getting married.

Always be involved in church, it's an important part of life. Methodist Youth Fellowship meetings were a popular thing they did together. Both of them had good role models with both sets of parents being married over 50 years.

Other things were factors too. Marvin picks out really nice cards for Valentine's Day, birthday, Mother's Day or anniversary, Eunice said. Marvin really liked cheery pie and Eunice could bake a good cherry pie although, she admits, she doesn't make pies much any more.

Know each other well before getting married and have similar values, Eunice said.

Marvin said each has to be able to admit when they are wrong and allow for mistakes because neither one is perfect. Be accepting and talk to each other.

For Marvin and Eunice, they got to know each other so well, it just seemed obvious they were meant for each other.

"Neither one of us expected we wouldn't get along,' Eunice said.

They first met in health class where they were assigned to find out the eye color of the students in class. When Eunice saw Marvin's blue eyes, she thought he was a pretty good looking guy. He was interested in other girls that semester but he quickly came around.

They dated six years and enjoyed attending Methodist Youth Fellowship, eating out, going to sports events, going to movies and going to Eunice's grand parents to watch TV, especially Alfred Hitchcock. When the time came, Marvin was so positive Eunice would say "Yes" that he went ahead and bought a ring and gave it to her when he proposed. They were sitting in a car outside her house because he wanted to be away from everyone in the house. They were engaged for two before getting married.

After 56 years of marriage, they are still getting along. Now both retired, they enjoy their children and grand children. They try to pass on the life lessons they have learned and be good role models.

They enjoy hobbies of collecting and restoring engines and woodworking for Marvin and collecting American Fostoria for Eunice.

They traveled a lot earlier in marriage, including trips abroad, and encourage other couples to do the same and do it early in the marriage.

"Travel while you can. Don't wait too long," Marvin said.

It seemed they were destined to be together from the start. Born just six miles apart in Kiowa County, the pair had consecutive numbers on their birth certificates. Both were born at home, Marvin on Jan. 11 and Eunice on Jan. 24 in 1939.

Although they lived just a few miles apart, they didn't meet until they attended Haviland High School as freshmen. Their first date together was to a basketball game at Ford. They double dated with Marvin's brother Edward and his girl Nancy Mahoney.

They dated throughout high school and both were busy with many activities. They graduated on May 16, 1957 and each wrote in the other's yearbook how much they had enjoyed their time at high school.

Marvin wrote, "We have had a lot of fun together and I hope that you have enjoyed all of our dates as much as I have. I will always remember you even if we part and I hope that we will at least be good friends. Lots of Love to a real swell girl."

Eunice wrote, "I probably won't ever forget the day I looked over in health class to see what color your eyes were and found out the rest of you wasn't so bad either. I'm sure glad you finally made the rounds of all the rest of the girls in school and finally decided onto go with me - even it if was just to bother someone else."

Eunice gave back Marvin's ring but during their first semester of college, they decided to go steady again.

They didn't get to go to college together. Eunice went to Fort Hays Kansas State College on a nursing scholarship where a semester's tuition was $72. She was selected for Who's Who Among Students in American Colleges and Universities. Her course work required her to take classes at Denver Children's Hospital, Topeka State Hospital and Chicago Lying In, part of the University of Chicago.

Marvin went to Pratt Junior College on a scholarship and graduated on May 27, 1959 as top male student. The next day he proposed to Eunice. Then he headed off to Kansas State University where he was an engineering major and Eunice went back to nursing school.

During this time they only called each other once but communicated with a lot of letters, said Eunice who once took a bus trip from Hays to Manhattan to see her special fellow.

Eunice graduated Aug. 10, 1961 then completed clinicals on Aug. 22. Cost of her education was from $5,000 to $6,000. Then came the wedding on Aug. 26 with Eunice in her $50 wedding dress.

Their honeymoon started with a trip to Dodge City where they stayed at the Silver Spur Lodge in the honeymoon suite for a whopping $9.23. Then it was off to Colorado where they stayed four days in a cabin that belonged to Eunice's uncle Elmer Rinkel and went hiking in the mountains.

Money was tight during those first years of marriage. They needed new tires for their car and could only afford one a month.

They moved to Manhattan where Marvin completed his degree. Marvin taught at Buhler High School and worked on his grandfather's farm while Eunice worked at Kiowa County Memorial Hospital.

They moved to Illinois where Marvin earned his Master of Arts and taught at a community college there while Eunice worked at Burnham City Hospital and taught at the Burnham School of nursing.

In 1966, Marvin got a teaching position at Pratt Junior College and Eunice went to work at Pratt Regional Medical Center where she became Vice President of Nursing. Their children Suzanne and Alan were born in Pratt and they lived in several houses before they built their current home in 1977 at 1362 E. Third. Marvin also spent 12 years appraising some 600 houses in the area. Both retired in 2004, Marvin after teaching 38 years at PCC and Eunice after 36 years at PRMC.

Marvin is the son of Walter Harry and Beulah May (Holmes) Proctor. Eunice is the daughter of Frank Raymond and Katherine Jane (Woodward) Rinkel.

@GaleR_Tribune