75-year marriage builds on daily habit of love and respect

| Jennifer Janikula for The Catholic Spirit | June 5, 2013 | 0 Comments
Ambrose and Leona Yantes celebrated their 75th anniversary in May with 300 family members and friends at the Del­ano American Legion. Joe McDonald, McDonald Studios, Delano, MN

Ambrose and Leona Yantes celebrated their 75th anniversary in May with 300 family members and friends at the Del­ano American Legion. Joe McDonald, McDonald Studios, Delano, MN

On June 8, Archbishop John Nienstedt will honor married couples, especially those celebrating silver and golden anniversaries, during the annual Marriage Day Celebration at the Cathedral of St. Paul.

Archdiocesan Marriage Day celebrates the sacrament of marriage and the Cath­olic Church’s teaching that the love of marriage is a gift “given by gentle affection and by deed, which by its busy generosity, grows better and grows greater.” (Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, Second Vatican Council, 1965).

Like many of the couples who will be honored on Marriage Day, Ambrose and Leona Yantes from St. Peter’s Church in Delano embrace the “busy generosity” of their successful marriage.

Their story begins at the base of a Ferris wheel at the 1937 Fourth of July carnival in Delano. “He saw me on the Ferris wheel with my two nieces,” Leona recalls. “When I got off he asked me to walk around the fair with him. I said ‘yes’ and I’ve been walking with him ever since.”

Ambrose and Leona married on May 2, 1938. “We were so young then,” Leona remembered. “When people ask how old we were, I tell them I was married in the sandbox.”

Fast forward 75 years, four children, 10 grandchildren, 20-some great grandchildren, and seven or so great-greats, and their marriage remains as beautiful and romantic as that Ferris wheel image.

Celebrate marriage

What: Archdiocesan Marriage Day Celebration with Archbishop John Nienstedt

When: 10 a.m., Saturday, June 8

Where: Cathedral of St. Paul, St.Paul

Couples celebrating 25 or 50 years of marriage in 2013 will be honored in a special way.

Sweet messages

Their 75-year walk has been marked by a daily habit of love and respect.

Ambrose shows affection with generous consistency. He leaves love notes around the house and traces sweet words in the bottom of greasy pans. He even etches messages like “Sure love my valentine” or “Merry Christmas my darling” in the snow on the garage rooftop Leona can see from her window.

He brings Leona flowers all the time. She cherishes every thoughtful flower, even if it’s just a dandelion from the yard. “I love you is 100 times a day,” Ambrose said.

Leona has earned Ambrose’s affection with daily baking. She jokes that if you asked for the secret ingredient of a good marriage, she would say “love” and he would say “good food!”

Leona still bakes every day. Over the course of one week, Leona might bake six batches of cookies, a loaf of banana bread and a rhubarb pie. When pressed to choose his favorite, Ambrose said diplomatically, “Everything!”

Ambrose and Leona rely on each other. “There’s nothing he wouldn’t do for me and me for him as well,” Leona said.

Over the years, they have enjoyed polka dancing, designing bird houses and building garden benches. “We work together,” Ambrose said. “She is the designer and the painter. I am the builder. There isn’t anything we can’t do together.”

Even after 75 years together, when Ambrose sits down at the table next to Leona, he gently places his hand on top of hers. She smiles at him. He pats her hand. He wiggles his fingers between hers. You can still picture them as teenagers walking away from the base of that Ferris wheel, together.

Ambrose and Leona live in the Delano home they purchased a few years after they were married.

In April, they celebrated their 75th ­anniversary with 300 family members and friends at the Delano American Legion.

See photos from Archdiocesan Marriage Day

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