‘The love of my life’: Arlington Heights couple renew vows to mark 70th anniversary

Surrounded by children and grandchildren, Al and Jane Klein renewed their marital vows Sunday, 70 years after they first exchanged them.

The Arlington Heights couple — Al, 91, and Jane, 90 — raised 12 children in their Kennicott Avenue home. Today the Kleins, who now live nearby at Luther Village, have 25 grandchildren and are about to have an eighth great-grandchild.

Al and Jane Klein at the University of Illinois in 1953. Courtesy of Dave Klein

“She’s the love of my life and she kept me going,” Al said.

  Al and Jane Klein celebrated their 70th anniversary and renewed their vows Sunday surrounded by their children and grandchildren in Arlington Heights. Steve Zalusky/

The couple has seen a lot of changes since they met at a teenage dance at St. Sabina Church in Chicago. Al at the time was attending St. Rita High School on the city’s South Side, while Jane was a few miles away at Longwood Academy.

They say their Catholic faith and philosophy of life has kept them together for seven decades.

“It’s just day by day,” Jane said. “Don’t take an argument to bed. You want to start the next day fresh.”

“We never let any problems get the best of us,” Al added. “We always figured out some way to work them out together.”

The early years of their marriage involved 19 moves. They lived in downstate Urbana when Al attended the University of Illinois and then in Germany, when he was stationed in the U.S. Army’s meteorological corps.

They discovered Arlington Heights while traveling Route 14 on the way to a vacation spot in Wisconsin, Al said. Over the years, the home they bought in 1960 for $18,000 needed several additions to match those of their growing family.

  Al and Jane Klein pose with their children Sunday at the Knights of Columbus hall in Arlington Heights, where they celebrated 70 years of marriage. Steve Zalusky/

Al worked as an engineer with the American Can Company in Barrington, where he developed several patents, including one in 1965 that resulted in a stronger bottom for aerosol cans.

To hear their children tell it, theirs was the kind of family that might have inspired a 1950s TV sitcom.

Steve Klein, the oldest who now lives near San Francisco, remembers his brother Ken waking up his siblings at 7 a.m. practicing on his drum kit.

“We had a basketball hoop in the backyard. There used to be a morning basketball game before school,” he said.

“It was like being at a Boy Scout summer camp all year round,” added Dave Klein, one of nine sons. “Every meal was a banquet, and every Sunday was a dress-up day to go to church.

“They poured all of their hearts and souls into our family,” he added.

Dave Klein noted that a 70th anniversary is a rare milestone.

“I read somewhere that one-tenth of 1% of all marriages make it to 70 years. So that tells you how rare this is,” he said.

  The Rev. Bill Zavaski officiates Sunday as Al and Jane Klein renew their wedding vows at the Knights of Columbus hall in Arlington Heights. Steve Zalusky/

The “family priest,” the Rev. Bill Zavaski, performed the renewal ceremony at the Knights of Columbus in Arlington Heights.

“I have known this family since 1969,” said Zavaski, pastor emeritus of St. James Parish in Arlington Heights. “They have great faith, not just in God, but in one another.”

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