This Valentine’s Day, elders share their greatest advice for lasting love

Panama City

PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB) — Valentine’s Day is the annual celebration of romance and love, and a bright spot in today’s pandemic-plagued world.

This year, three veterans from the Clifford Chester Sims State Veterans Affairs Nursing Home shared their greatest love stories and their greatest advice for building a love that lasts.

“I married my high school sweetheart and I can’t remember how many years we were married before she passed away,” said John Milum, 87.

Milum said him and his wife met through her brothers.

“When I was in school I used to play basketball with her brothers,” Milum said. “The more I knew of her the more I loved her.”

Milum had graduated and enlisted in the Air Force while is future wife was still in high school, but he said that didn’t keep them apart.

“We were determined that we were going to marry each other,” Milum said.

After his first wife passed away, Milum was fortunate enough to meet someone else.

“I met a lady in church. Found out we loved each other and we married,” Milum said. “She’s still living. But with this COVID, she can’t come to visit me. But we talk. I call her every day.”

Lewis Brubaker, 93, met his wife when he moved to Panama City. He was stationed in North Dakota while his future wife remained in the area. Their parents made marriage arrangements for them at the First Baptist Church.

“We got married on July the 5th. My buddies never stopped teasing me. The day of independence…the very next day, you give up your independence!” Brubaker said. “I didn’t feel I gave up anything. It was the best thing that ever happened to me.”

Edward S. Johnson, 99, said his greatest love story began when he met his wife, Jane, of 66 years.

“Jane was supposed to have a date with another guy,” Johnson said. “He pulled out and so I went in his place.”

Johnson said a group of friends went to a creek when a storm broke out. In the moment, he abandoned his future wife in the storm to find cover for himself leaving her in the rain.

“She never let me forget that one!” Johnson said.

Johnson said she died two Septembers ago of a stroke.

We asked these three veterans what their best advice was for building a love that lasts:

  • “To be an honest man. A man who wants to better himself.” —John Milum
  • “You have to be dedicated to each other and your marriage is the most important thing.” —Lewis Brubaker
  • “People ought to know who they are marrying. Jane knew me and I knew her pretty well I think. For it to last 66 years, I would say that’s pretty good.” —Edward S. Brubaker.

Milum added, “If you really love them, it’s no big job to stay in love.”

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