Like the classic country song, "...if you want to see how true love should be..." then just look at Ralph and Bertie Sperr. The Sperrs will celebrate 60 years of marriage in April 2011.
"There's a lot of give and take," said Bertie, when asked their secret to a successful marriage.
"There has to be true love so you stay together for awhile," said Ralph. "When we got married we decided that she would make the small decisions and I would make the big decisions; so far there have been no big decisions," he added with a laugh.
Bertie was born in 1933 to Emil and Augusta Maus of Synnes Township south of Morris. Ralph was born on Easter Sunday in March 1929 to Charley and Florence Sperr of Donnelly. They attended District 58 and 56 schools, respectively, and both attended the West Central School of Agriculture in the late 1940s.
"Room and board was $18.50 a month then," said Ralph.
They met while roller-skating at Perkins Resort (now Luther Crest) and wed a week after they graduated from the WCSA. They raised five children: LeRoy (Julie), Ace (Lois), George (Wendy), Sue, and Tom (Aileen), and have eight grandchildren and six great grandchildren.
"We taught our children how to work," said Ralph.
"...to put their best foot forward," said Bertie," and to keep in touch with their maker, God."
The Sperrs were stationed at Fort Richardson in Anchorage, Alaska, during 1952-54 while he served in the infantry.
"That's when Alaska was still a territory," said Ralph.
Bertie worked in a washateria, similar to today's laundromat.
"Mt. McKinley erupted during that time," they both recalled. They have since returned to Alaska for a visit.
They have given back to their community as members of the Morris VFW for more than 30 years. Bertie is a past Auxiliary president and Ralph was the Post Commander and a trustee for several years.
Bertie had a brother and a nephew who served in Vietnam. Ralph's brother-in-law was killed there.
"Ralph and others were called to duty to protect our country; the least we can do is help back," said Bertie.
Although Ralph had worked in farming since he was 13 for Herb and Irene Kill and then for George Leuty, Jr. while attending the WCSA, the Sperrs bought their first farm in 1961 on the site where son Ace now lives and farms. Bertie and Ralph continued to farm until 1986.
"We've seen a lot of changes in farming--from horses to tractors--with farming getting more mechanized," he said.
Ralph was the first president elected to both the Stevens County Pork Producers and the Stevens County Corn Growers Association and also served as president of the Stevens County Dairy Association. He served for 20 years as supervisor for Morris Township and for the past 35 years he has served on the Stevens County Zoning and Planning Commission.
The Sperrs attend St. Paul's Lutheran Church where Bertie played the organ for 25 years.
"We're the oldest married couple who still attends that church who also got married there," she said.
After retiring from farming, Ralph delivered bulk fuel for Jerry's U-Save for 13 years and helped son Tom in his Herman auto shop for 10 years.
Now that the pace of their lives has slowed a bit, the Sperrs enjoy playing an occasional game of cards.
"You can learn from playing cards," said Bertie. "Human nature is that everyone wants to be a winner; you learn how to lose."
"Kids learn how to count," added Ralph.
They also enjoy entertaining in their warm and welcoming home. "People don't entertain in their homes as much today," said Bertie. "Your home is your castle, where you can retreat to get comfort."
Although their family continues to grow, the Sperrs hope to gather as a family this holiday season. Bertie's scrumptious homemade bread or sweet rolls may be on the menu, a game of cards may be played, and no doubt Ralph will share one of the many stories for which he's famous.