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Second grade proposal yields 60 year marriage

9:06 PM, Feb 14, 2014   |    comments
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JAY, Maine (USA TODAY) - "I don't think Bob and I have ever stopped being in love. There are some days where I haven't loved him too much, depending upon the situation. But as far as being in love together, yes. That happened in the second grade," said Jerlaine Leclerc.

That's right, love at first sight in the second grade.

It was 1953. Jerlaine was a brand new student at St. Rose School in Jay, Maine. Bob, a seasoned veteran of the school at the age of seven. Bob had the very important job of passing out the chocolate milk.

"He handed me a thing of, it was glass bottles back then, a thing of chocolate milk. And then he said, 'I'm going to marry you some day,'" said Jerlaine.

Bob was completely serious in declaration.

"I got home that afternoon and I told my mother what had happened. I said, 'I'm going to marry her when we get out of high school.' My mother said, 'yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.' And lo and behold... Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah... I'm buying a diamond and we're getting married," he said.

It wasn't quite as simple as that, though. In the young years of elementary school and playground politics, Bob and Jerlaine had some obstacles. The nuns at St. Rose kept the boys and girls separate, especially Bob and Jerlaine. Love found a way to sneak around the nuns' watching eyes.

"He'd send me candy hearts in school. And the kids would pass them up the row so the nun wouldn't see that. And I'd get these little candy hearts in school," said Jerlaine.

When they finally got to high school, there was a little more freedom. The relationship blossomed and intensified.

"We had a really good relationship. I would tie up the phone for an hour, hour and-a-half a night talking to her," said Bob.

"We just dated and went to all kinds of dances and proms and games," said Jerlaine.

Bob broke up with Jerlaine sophomore year after his parents encouraged him to play the field. Jerlaine said she was heartbroken.

Fortunately, it didn't last long and Bob came crawling back three days later.

One year after high school graduation, Bob followed through on that second grade proposal. The two were married on July 16, 1966 in the church across the street from the school where they met.

The couple admits their marriage hasn't been perfect or easy. There have been ups, downs, struggles, and even life-threatening illnesses. Despite this, there has always been one constant.

"A deep love. And a deep respect," said Bob.

"I'm stubborn. And he's stubborn. So we butt heads a lot. But we always seem to be able to fix it," said Jerlaine.

"And It's not always easy," said Bob. "But we support each other. And we care. And that makes all the difference in the world."

Bob and Jerlaine are renewing their vows February 15 at the same church they were married.

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