Knicely Done: Nebraska couple celebrates 72 years of marriage

Updated: Jun. 11, 2021 at 3:26 PM CDT
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SCRIBNER, Neb. (WOWT) - Ralph and Janine Wagner of Scribner, Nebraska are in rare company. Census numbers indicate that fewer than one percent of marriages last 70 years.

The Wagner’s celebrated their 72nd wedding anniversary just about two weeks ago on May 29th.

“We kiss every night,” explained Janine in an interview with WOWT 6 News. “One time when we were first married I cried and cried and he (Ralph) rolled over and said, ‘Why are you crying?’ I said, ‘You haven’t told me you love me for ten days!’ That was our big thing. Ever since then we give each other a kiss so you never go to bed mad.”

Ralph was 21 when he married Janine who was 19 at the time. They met when Ralph came back from serving in the Navy.

“I came home and she was a drum majorette, said Ralph with a twinkle in his eye. “Several other fellows wanted to go out with her but I had a car! That kind of made a difference.”

Ralph and Janine are still very active at ages 94 and 91 respectively. They travel together as far as California and around the Scribner area with Ralph behind the wheel.

“He’s a good driver,” said Janine. “When I tell him to stop, he’ll stop. When I tell him to turn, he turns. He’s a good guy.”

“My gas tank and her bladder are the same size,” added Ralph with a chuckle. “So we just have to make one stop.”

The Wagners sprinkle their conversation with humor and candor. Ralph still hits solid golf shots but Janine is quick to point out with a smile that her husband is a “terrible putter.”

A favorite story goes back to the night when they became engaged. They had planned to go to a movie that night but heavy snowfall ruined those plans.

“I don’t think they even had a show that night,” said Ralph. “We just sat in the car and talked and kind of knew we would be married.”

“And he had to sleep with my Dad,” added Janine with a laugh.

“That was exciting,” said Ralph with even more laughter.

72 years of marriage and later this summer they hope to attend their son’s 50th wedding anniversary. Ralph also hopes to be back in Memorial Stadium this fall.

“I’ve only missed four home games in the last 50 years,” he said.

I asked if they made the right choice to marry each other way back in 1949 and both responded with no hesitancy.

“I certainly did,” exclaimed Janine.

“I know I did,” said Ralph with conviction.

Knicely Done!

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