Ontario's longest married couple to mark 72nd Valentine's Day

Florence and Willem Schurman have been married for 71 years and are looking forward to Valentines Day, Wednesday February 13, 2013.



RICHMOND HILL, ON -- Florence and Willem Schurman credit being married for 71 Valentine's Days to never going to bed angry.

"We always settle an argument before we go to sleep and we always kiss good night," Flo said Wednesday as the beaming couple and their adopted feline Bradi sat in their Richmond Hill apartment, just north of Toronto.

The two lovebirds -- Flo, 89, and Bill, 94 -- were anointed the longest married couple in Ontario this month by a group called the Worldwide Marriage Encounter, which held the contest for the first time in the province.

They married just three days after Pearl Harbor in 1941, with Bill's call to report to the Armed Forces in February looming.

Flanked by family photos, Flo said she still couldn't believe no one in the province has been married longer than them.

"I thought, 'I just can't believe this, there's got to be more people that have been married as long as or longer than we have','" she said. "But it doesn't sound as though they found them."

It all began when Flo moved to Richmond Hill at age 15 to stay with her aunt and attend high school.

Bill's family lived across from them and they had the only telephone in the neighbourhood, which Flo used frequently.

"That was a fatal mistake," Bill laughed.

Three years after his mother pushed him to take Flo skating, he got down on one knee and proposed to her.

"We were married at wartime and I think we appreciated living," Flo said. "And I think you figured you didn't know from day to day whether you'd be here or overseas."

Bill got the call to go abroad as Flo gave birth to their first child. After he failed his medical exam, he spent the war in Canada, much to his wife's relief.

Together, they have survived war, raised six children, 10 grandchildren and five great-grandchildren, opened an insurance business, fought Bill's cancer diagnosis, sold the business and lost their son Paul to cancer when he was 57.

They've saved bags of greeting cards they have given to each other over the years for Christmas and Valentine's Day. Every Sunday, they can be found in the same church where they wed.

"In our time when we were married, we really did have to stick together," Flo said. "And the longer you stick together, the more you fall in love."

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