Monday, December 16, 2019

Childless world’s oldest living couple celebrates 80 years of marriage.

It all started in a zoology class in 1934. Students were seated alphabetically in the tiered lecture hall, so John Henderson, 21, sat directly behind Charlotte Curtis. When he looked down, he liked the shy 20-year-old he saw in front of him.

And Charlotte?

“I thought he was just a fine fella, and I didn’t mind his looking over my shoulder,” she told The Washington Post in an interview.

On Dec. 22, the couple — she’s 105; he’s 106 — will celebrate their 80th wedding anniversary. The Guinness World Records have recognized the longevity of their love by naming the Hendersons the oldest living married couple.

John was born in 1912 in Fort Worth. He told The Post he remembers the first time he heard a radio; the neighbors brought one home when he was about 8 years old.

“And I well-remember that long antenna. They had to put it up from the front yard to the backyard to receive a radio show,” he said.
He moved to Austin to attend the University of Texas in the early 1930s, where he was a guard on the football team. (Hook ’em, horns!) At the time, about 53,000 people lived in the capital. Nowadays, the metropolitan area boasts a population of more than 2 million.

He recalls renting a room across the street from the Gregory Gym, one of the few historical buildings remaining on the urban campus.

“The neighbors next door had a cow and chickens. You can imagine today a cow and chicken house across the street from Gregory, where the campus is so large now you wouldn’t recognize hardly anything,” John said.

John and Charlotte married in a tiny ceremony — only two guests were present — on Dec. 22, 1939. They honeymooned in San Antonio, staying at a hotel that cost $7 a night.

Although they have been together for 85 years, they have been married only for 80, meaning they do not hold the record for the longest marriage. That title, according to Guinness World Records, belongs to Zelmyra and Herbert Fisher, who wed at the ages of 19 and 17, respectively, and were married for 86 years and 290 days before Herbert’s death in 2011.

The Hendersons made their home in Baytown, Tex. Charlotte continued to teach, and John had a long career at Humble Oil and Refining Co. (now part of Exxon). He retired in 1972.

The Hendersons never had children, “so some people have said that’s really why we’ve lived so long!” John joked.

They haven’t decided what they’re going to do to celebrate their 80th — that’s the oak anniversary, if you’re curious — but the retirement village held a party for them earlier this month.

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