Nov. 25: John and Ann Betar celebrate their 80th anniversary at St. Nicholas Antiochian Orthodox Church, in Bridgeport, Conn.
A Connecticut couple who tied the knot over 80 years ago will be named the longest married couple in the U.S.
John and Ann Betar of Fairfield, Conn., said “I do” on Nov. 25, 1932, and have been happily married for 80 years. Together they have five children, 14 grandchildren and 16 great-grandchildren.
The couple was selected for the 2013 award by Worldwide Marriage Encounter, a Christian marriage enrichment group based in San Bernardino, Calif., that organizes a search each year to promote the virtues of lasting marriages and inspire young couples.
“What an inspiration Mr. and Mrs. Betar are to all of us. They made a commitment to each other 80-plus years ago and they have kept that commitment over these many years. They truly are a sign of hope to us all,” Worldwide Marriage Encounter’s Ron and Judy Pekny said in a statement.
An award ceremony will take place on Saturday at the Fairfield, Conn., home of one of the Betars’ granddaughters, Heather Mitchell.
Before their 80th wedding anniversary in November, John and Ann Betar told ABC News that they considered themselves “blessed.”
“We are very fortunate. It can be repeated and repeated,” Ann, 97, said at the time. “It is unconditional love and understanding. We have had that. We consider it a blessing.”
Though the couple is hesitant to give out marriage advice, their secret to so many happy years together is simple: compromise and don’t hold a grudge.
John, 101, met Ann, now 97, while growing up in the same Syrian community in Bridgeport, Conn. Breaking with tradition, Ann defied her parents when they set up an arranged marriage for her. She ran off to Harrison, N.Y. to elope with John. Now, she says she knows she made the right choice.
The Betars said they delight in the newer generations of their family, and their descendants return the compliment.
“I’m always blown away by their incredible optimism, deep sense of compassion and modesty,” granddaughter Heather Mitchell said before their anniversary. “They are true beacons – inspirational people who emit such joy without even knowing it.”
The Betars were chosen out of hundreds of couples nominated during the project’s submission period, which ran from October of last year to January. There may be other couples who have been married longer in the U.S., but none was formally nominated, according to the group.