Surprises keep Aurora couple happy for 73 years

 
 
Updated 2/11/2012 5:28 PM
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  • Dale and Doris Chatfield of Aurora were recognized for 73 years of marriage by the Chicago-Gary Diocese for World Wide Marriage Encounter on Friday at Alden Gardens of Waterford in Aurora.

      Dale and Doris Chatfield of Aurora were recognized for 73 years of marriage by the Chicago-Gary Diocese for World Wide Marriage Encounter on Friday at Alden Gardens of Waterford in Aurora. Bev Horne | Staff Photographer

  • Dale and Doris Chatfield of Aurora are honored Friday for being Illinois' longest-married couple by Kathy and Lloyd Christensen, executive couple with the Chicago-Gary Diocese for World Wide Marriage Encounter at Alden Gardens of Waterford in Aurora. Later this year, the couple will be have been married 74 years.

      Dale and Doris Chatfield of Aurora are honored Friday for being Illinois' longest-married couple by Kathy and Lloyd Christensen, executive couple with the Chicago-Gary Diocese for World Wide Marriage Encounter at Alden Gardens of Waterford in Aurora. Later this year, the couple will be have been married 74 years. Bev Horne | Staff Photographer

When she was 17, Doris Chatfield's dog knew Dale was the right man for her.

Guard, Doris' dog, loved Dale so much that she knew it was a sign. She gave back an engagement ring to another man who had proposed, and when she turned 18, Doris married Dale.

Seventy-three years later, the dog's instincts have proved spot on. Doris and Dale Chatfield of Aurora were honored Friday as Illinois' longest-married couple during a ceremony at Alden Gardens of Waterford.

Doris, 91, and Dale, 100, have been married the longest of all couples in the state nominated to Worldwide Marriage Encounter's yearly Longest Married Couple Project.

"We'd like to thank you for being such a great example that marriage does work today," said Kathy Christensen, who with her husband, Lloyd, gave the Chatfields a certificate from World Wide Marriage Encounter.

After meeting at church and living much of their lives in Denver, Colo., the Chatfields moved to Aurora seven years ago, and have lived in Alden of Waterford Continuing Care Retirement Community.

Staying married 73 years didn't seem like anything out of the ordinary to the Chatfields, until about a month ago, when Doris got a call saying they had been married longer than anyone else in Illinois who was nominated to World Wide Marriage Encounter.

"It doesn't seem like much of an accomplishment," Doris said. "It was so simple -- we just keep on living."

Both said they felt humbled by the award, presented in front of about 30 other Alden residents at an afternoon gathering with punch and snacks.

"Marriage isn't so bad, after all," Dale joked.

One of the Chatfields' grandsons, along with his wife and one of their great-grandchildren, joined in Friday's ceremony. The couple has two children, six grandchildren, two great-grandchildren and one great, great-grandchild, but still enjoys alone time.

"My favorite time is when it's just the two of us," Doris said.

Surprises have been a constant in the Chatfields' marriage, and both say that's a good thing.

Doris said her husband has given her gifts including a piano and a new car out of the blue, even though their life never was anything extravagant.

And Dale, who calls his more talkative wife "the speaker of the house," said she still captivates him.

"You're still amazing," Dale told his wife on Friday. "You surprise me every day."

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