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An anniversary a lifetime in the making

HAPPY ANNIVERSARY:Max and Mildred celebrated eight years together this weekend. The two met and dated back in the 1940s but went their separate ways when she moved. They rekindled their relationship 65 years after first meeting and were married on Sept. 8, 2010.

BY Spencer Durham - sdurham@chronicle-tribune.com

You’re never too old to get married. Or marry again. Or rekindle a high school romance.

Take it from Max and Mildred Donoho. The Frankfort couple celebrated their eighth wedding anniversary this weekend at the ages of 91 and 89, respectively.

The two married on Sept. 8, 2010, 65 years after they initially met.

“Seems like a 100 (years),” Max said with a laugh Friday afternoon in their home on Maple Drive.

Max and Mildred sit in twin recliners, side by side in the living room, separated only by a stand. The living room window overlooks a sizeable flower bed and fills the room with natural light. Mildred enjoys looking after her flowers. Max just likes to look at them.

The rain tapers off as they talk about their lives and how their paths converged decades after Max and his Army buddies crashed an all-girls party Mildred was at. Max had been discharged after serving in Japan for two years during World War II.

“We decided we needed to go over and meet the girls,” he said. “That’s the way you do that, you see.

“Us boys sort of crashed it,” he continued. “That’s what you have to do to meet the girls.”

Max said he was around 20 years old the night he met Mildred, who was 17 at the time and still in high school.

“Well, I liked her because she was a girl,” Max recalled, laughing. “She was a nice gal.”

Max is the talker, or at least that’s the role he played Friday. When asked if they ever run out of things to talk about both reply “No!” Max contends it is Mildred who never runs out of things to talk about.

Though specific dates escape them, when talking about each other, Max and Mildred smile and laugh, a mutual respect and love ever present.

“We don’t have no arguments,” Max said. “No fighting, no fussing.”

So the two started dating. In today’s vernacular, it would be considered casual dating. The occasional hangout, movie or dinner lasted only a short time before Mildred moved back Wolcott. Though it may have been casual, Mildred said it was a bit too serious for her father.

“My father decided we were getting too close and he took me back up to Wolcott, Indiana where we just came from,” she said.

Wolcott is only about 50 miles from Frankfort, a reasonable distance in today’s age to travel for a date, but Max said in the 1940s the distance seemed a bit longer.

“Back in those days, that was quite a drive with the cars we had,” he said.

So the two drifted apart and started their own lives. Max married and stayed that way for the next 63 years. Mildred, too, married, hers lasting 48 years. Both would eventually outlive their spouses.

“I never thought of it,” Mildred said of what might have been. “When I would come to the mall in Lafayette … some time or two, I saw him and his wife walking down the mall. I thought, ‘well there he is, he’s married.’”

Max said he saw Mildred a time or two in that mall as well, though the other never knew it.

Some time had passed after the deaths of their spouses when Max reached out to Mildred’s sister. Her sister told him Mildred would be coming over at noon on a Saturday. That gave Max an idea.

“I told her I’d be there at 11:30 (a.m.),” he said.

And so he was. Sixty-some years after he crashed a party, the two were reunited.

“She ain’t too sure about me,” he said with a chuckle. “Even today she’s not too sure.”

“We just get along fine,” Mildred added.

Max soon joined Mildred’s church because, “If you’re going to be with somebody the least you can do is go to church.”

“That was really wonderful,” she added. “He’s a good man.”

A proposal and marriage came as a surprise to Mildred. They didn’t skimp on the occasion, even though both were well into their 80’s.

“She got the whole nine yards,” Max said. “She got a church wedding, I proposed to her.”

The two were married at St. Mary’s Catholic Church with their high school friends and family members in attendance.

“I got to throw the cake at her,” Max said. “We had everything that everyone else had.”

How have the last eight years been? They’ll tell you.

“Terrible,” Max said laughing, making Mildred chuckle as well.

“If he wants to do it and I don’t want to, he goes ahead and does whatever he’s talking about,” Mildred said.

Needless to say, Max and Mildred don’t let much come between them.

The two attend Mass weekly and still enjoy going out for dinner. You just can’t beat a good meal and no dishes to clean, according to Max.

“That’s the number one priority,” he said. “We ain’t messing up no dishes in this house. That cooking is for the birds.”

Later, Max and Mildred move to a sofa in another room for a picture.

“Are we going to be lovey dovey on the couch?” Mildred asks.

Max sits down and puts her arm around her. The two smile for the camera.