ROSEWOOD — All you need is love — and respect. Or at least according to Glen and Ruth Hicks, who recently celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary on March 20, those two qualities have been key to their successful marriage.
“You know what it is? It’s called happiness,” Ruth said about the rarity of 70 years of marriage. “And it’s a genuine, deep love. We have a friendship too. If young couples quarreled as little as we do, for even half of our married years, they would be blessed. We are an extremely happy couple, I think.”
The couple admits they are still deeply in love and very happy, but Glen joked that they didn’t even know each other when they got married after only six dates.
“I didn’t know if she wanted a dozen of kids, or was a Muslim,” Glen said with a laugh.
Yet, marrying Glen wasn’t her original plan. When Ruth met Glen, who was a regular customer at her parents’ small restaurant in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where she worked, she was engaged to another man.
“I was engaged and I remember my mother look up and go, ‘Now why doesn’t Ruthie go with someone like that,’” she recalled her saying about Glen.
The Hicks’ chemistry is still palpable, as when Ruth explained about Glen’s character.
When asked what her mother meant, she promptly replied with a laugh, “Because he is so wonderful! He was the perfect gentleman. Always looked nice (wearing a suit and tie and hat). But that wasn’t the main thing. (He) was just a decent human being.”
“I kept telling her that,” Glen joked.
“He really was a gentleman,” she said. Glen teased back saying, “Was?…” followed by everyone’s laughter.
Nor was it Glen’s original plan to be in Milwaukee. He explained that after returning from serving as a radio operator in the U.S. Army Airforces in World War II, that initially it was his cousin who had planned to move from their hometown of Wichita, Kansas, to go to the Milwaukee School of Engineering. Glen’s cousin asked him to register too, but before classes began, the cousin changed his mind. Glen decided to go to Milwaukee anyway.
“I knew there was some destiny somewhere,” Glenn said with a laugh.
Ruth said that Glen, as a student, “lived on” their two eggs, toast and coffee special for 30 cents. It was after one of those shifts that Ruth invited Glen to go along with her and her fiance’ to visit one of her girlfriends that they really hit it off.
“They asked if I wanted to go with them. She did, he didn’t. And after that, he said, ‘no point in me hanging around,” Glen recalled with a chuckle.
After Glen graduated, the couple were separated by three states, not including Kansas and Wisconsin, for about three months before Glen made the long road trip back to Milwaukee to continue courting Ruth.
“You know how many hours you had to drive to make that trip, one way? — It wasn’t like on freeways, (in 1948). (It was) 22 hours, one way,” Ruth said, with Glen’s confirmation.
“It was all state routes and just two-lane highways back then,” he said.
Glen drove straight home to Wichita on Sunday after the weekend visit to Milwaukee with only three hours total sleep since waking up Friday morning. Then only got three more hours of sleep before work on Monday morning.
“That tells you. That describes him. When the right thing needs to be done, he does it,” Ruth said, echoing her earlier sentiment that she “is always so proud of him.”
“It’s been the most beautiful marriage every since,” she said with tears in her eyes.
Glen, who will be 95 in June, teased, “If she keep going like she’s doing, I might stay a little while longer.”
When asked how they have managed to keep such a happy marriage, Ruth said a good sense of humor helps. Which was evident from the multiple good-hearted jokes Glen made toward Ruth.
“I’m always joking with her, and if I didn’t tease her about something, she would take it serious,” Glen said.
“It makes you kind of spark up, then,” Ruth, 89, said.
When asked for advice for how young couples could have the type of relationship they have with one another, Ruth said, “First of all, we love each other deeply. Second of all, I think we just respect each other.”
“I guess back from the old school, when we got married, I said I was going to love her and take care of her,” Glen added when Ruth asked for his thoughts.
“I don’t think it crossed either of our minds to not do otherwise,” Ruth said of respecting one another.
The two have been bestfriends every since, marrying not long after that weekend visit and eventually having two daughters, Cheryl and Donna. Their family grew to include four grandchildren and two great-children, which live in various parts of the country.
During his engineering career, Glen traveled all over the country for work. Ruth was homemaker often managing all the household duties and raising the girls by herself while Glen was on the road all week long. The Hicks wound up in Champaign County, Ohio, — where they still reside — in 1974 after Glen transferred from his job based in Cleveland to Copeland Corporation in Sidney. Copeland later became Emerson Climate Technologies, from where Glen retired in 1989.
Then for the next 16 years, the Hicks enjoyed traveling around the country in their RV “home away from home.” They also enjoyed many great times with life long friends they met after moving to this part of Ohio.
“It’s been a beautiful marriage,” Ruth said as she smiled at her husband. “I would not trade my life for anything in the world. It’s almost like it’s been a romance all these years.”
“She’s always saying ‘I’m a lucky girl.’ And I say, ‘what girl?’” Glen kidded. “She didn’t want to (travel around the country in a motor-home) initially, but she really loved it.”
“He’s made my whole life that way: perfect,” Ruth said lovingly.
Reach the writer at 937-538-4823.