'He's my guy' — Stoakes family celebrates 79 years together with vow renewal ceremony
Not many couples get to celebrate 79 years of marriage, but Clair and Lura Stoakes did just that, and in a big way, with a vow renewal ceremony at Wayne Countryview Care and Rehabilitation on Aug. 21. Residents and staff were dressed up for the ceremony that was officiated by Countryview's administrator Cheri Wingert.
"That was very, very nice," Lura said days after the ceremony. "I can't put words to explain how we feel because it was a really special thing that happened."
The special event was fitting for the special couple that got married in 1941. The first time around Clair was 21 years old and Lura was just 16. While that may seem young, Lura said she had known Clair since she was 12.
"He was my brother's friend and he used to come to our house quite often after school," she said.
Lura tagged along when the boys went to the movies one day in the mid 1930s and eventually started dating Clair. Before World War II, Lura told her father she and Clair wanted to get married.
"When I told my dad that I wanted to get married to Clair he looked at me and said 'don't you think you're kind of young?' and I said 'I'm kind of young, but I think he's my guy'," Lura said.
After 79 years, Clair is, indeed Lura's guy. The couple, who grew up in southern California built a house on land that was part of Lura's father's orange grove and held their wedding before Clair's parents moved to Nebraska.
In 1943, Clair entered the service and was in the Pacific until 1946. Clair and Lura's daughter Susan said her mother wrote her a father every day they were apart and after Clair returned from the war, the vowed to never be apart.
Around 1951, the couple decided to move their family, then with two new additions, daughters Susan and Marilyn, to Nebraska.
Clair worked on their farm, at a bank and retired from the Wayne power plant.
"We had a very good life after we moved in Nebraska," Lura said.
After Clair's retirement, the couple spent their time traveling in a motorhome, until about 10 years ago when Clair turned 90.
"When Clair turned 90, I said, ok, we're staying home," she said.
Lura and Clair stayed in their home until a little over a year ago, when Clair fell, necessitating a move to Wayne Countryview. Lura wasn't far behind, moving into the facility to keep Clair company.
When asked for tips about how to make it through 79 years of marriage, Lura's advice was simple.
"Sometimes you may argue, but then you kiss and make up," she said.
Lura said she was happy she got to spend this extra time with Clair and celebrate their love with their daughter, great-grand child and great-great grandchildren in attendance.