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Marjory and Merle Huenink

Marjory and Merle Huenink pose with the dress and suit they wore on their wedding day 70 years ago. 

On Sunday, Merle Huenink headed outside to collect a small bunch of white flowers blossoming from the plum trees in Holland for his wife, Marjory. It's a small romantic gesture, one that happens every year and brings back decades of memories.

Seventy years ago, on April 29, 1949, the Hueninks went out for a drive together on the morning of their wedding day. They had a simple wedding planned at their local church, the Holland Reformed Church, but the 19-year-old, soon-to-be newlyweds decided to add a few more decorations to the church.

"We didn't have lots of flowers, so we picked plum blossoms and they were just beautiful," Marjory said. "So we decorated the church with plum blossoms and when you walked in the whole place smelled so good because they were so fresh."

The two had grown up just a few miles from each other, Marjory in Firth and Merle on his 100-year-old family farm near Panama. They met at a birthday party when they were kids, and they began dating after a baseball game when they were teenagers.

Eventually, the two decided to live together just after Merle took over the farm. Marjory had taught in a one-room school until she decided to help Merle on the farm full time.

After a few years, Merle decided it was time to pull some money together, buy a ring and pop the question.

"He shucked corn by hand at the neighbor's to get enough money to buy the ring, which was probably at best a hundred dollars," Marjory said. "I still wear it; it's been true blue."

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After 70 years of love and teamwork, Marjory said the secret to their long and happy marriage lies in their Christian faith and knowing when it's time to make up and apologize.

"It's important to learn that even if you think something is not your fault, be brave enough to say you're sorry," she said. "Don't go to bed with disagreements; make it right and go from there."

The Hueninks plan on spending a quiet anniversary at their home in Holland after a church dinner on Sunday. 

They will both turn 90 this year and have four daughters, seven grandchildren, 21 great-grandchildren and two great-great grandchildren. Avid sports fans, they attend Norris baseball games when they can and have been Nebraska volleyball season ticket holders since their granddaughter Megan Demma, then Megan Korver, played volleyball for the Huskers under Terry Pettit.

They frequently host visitors for Sunday dinners, often family but they're open to others as well.

"Anybody can come for a Sunday dinner, but they got to let me know by Saturday," Marjory said.

And if it's around April 29, they might see a small bunch of plum blossoms sitting out.

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Reach the writer at 402-473-7214 or eclopton@journalstar.com.

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