A lifetime of love
CARBONDALE, Colorado – Art and Carolyn Ackerman met on the first day of school in 1936, when Art was entering the sixth grade and Carolyn fifth grade. They also happened to be neighbors, living just two doors from each other while growing up in Detroit.
But theirs isn’t a childhood sweetheart story. They weren’t even particularly “good friends” until many years later. In fact, Art’s high school girlfriend was Carolyn’s best friend.
However, theirs is a story of a lifetime spent together, including more than 61 years of marriage.
It wasn’t until after Art had returned from the Navy in 1945 and was attending the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor when they started dating on his weekends at home.
Neither can remember exactly where he proposed, perhaps at a fraternity party, or maybe the “jay hop” dance, or one of the other U. of M. social gatherings that Art would invite Carolyn down from Detroit to attend with him.
He eventually did propose, though, and the couple was married on June 12, 1948, at Mt. Hope Congregational Church in Detroit.
They took a week-long passenger ship cruise up to Lake Superior and back on the infamous Canada steamship, the Noronic. Art recalled that the following year, the Noronic tragically caught fire while docked at Toronto, killing more than a hundred people and destroying the ship.
The Ackerman’s marriage has endured the ages, though. Five children and 11 grandchildren later, with their first great-grandchild coming in April, they’ve been married 61 years and eight months this Valentine’s Day.
They moved to the Roaring Fork Valley full time in 1985, following three of their children who had located here, Skip and John Ackerman, and Gwen Hansen. They also have a daughter in Flagstaff, and a son in Fort Collins.
We asked the Ackerman’s what it was that attracted them to each other all those years ago, what’s kept them together, and to offer any advice they may have for people in a relationship in this day and age.
Why was he/she the one for you?
Art: She was smart, and good looking. She just had the same ideas about things as I did.
Carolyn: I had gotten to know him very well; we were in the same choir at church and part of the young person’s group. I also thought he was pretty smart.
What’s your most special memory after 61 years of marriage?
Art: It’s been a delight, and we’ve enjoyed doing so many things together – cruising, traveling. And we’ve enjoyed our family and being here (in the valley) for 25 years together.
Carolyn: Raising five kids, and watching 11 grandchildren grow up. And, we’re going to be great-grandparents. It’s all been special, really. We’ve had a remarkable relationship … lovers, but also best friends.
What’s the most endearing thing about your spouse?
Art: Her devotion to family, and her good nature. We enjoy the same things. We used to ski up until a couple of years ago. We still bicycle and play golf together. I come home from the radio station (Art hosts the Tuesday night “Swing, Swing, Swing” show on KDNK), and the radio is still on. So, I presume she listens to me.
Carolyn: He’s very smart. If I can’t figure out something, all I have to do is ask him and he’ll know it.
Any pet peeves after all these years?
Art: She does get after me because I’m such a slob. Every once while I’ll set my clean underwear out on the chair, and when I come out from my shower she’s already put them in the dirty clothes.
Carolyn: He’s never on time for anything, and I’m always on time for everything. If we ever have a disagreement, it usually involves me standing at bottom of stairs saying, “are you coming?!”
What’s your advice for young lovers?
Art: Hang in there. Solve problems, don’t walk away from them. You have to resolve your differences.
Carolyn: Be friendly. We’re lucky, because we came from the same background. I can’t imagine being married to someone I didn’t really know … don’t jump into anything.
What’s the key to a long marital relationship?
Art: Compatibility, and that means enjoying the same way of life. And, certainly, being very supportive of family, the whole family, including in-laws. I’m just so proud to be married to a good-looking woman who’s close to my age and takes great pride in her appearance.
Carolyn: Coming from the same background. We both had the same upbringing, and that’s very important. Our parents thought the same, and we knew each other for a long time (before getting married). We don’t argue, and our outlook is the same on things. Just stick it out.
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