2018-02-15 / Life in Leelanau

Two couples share secrets of 136 years of marriage

By Jen Murphy
of the Enterprise staff


LEONARD THORESON (top left) and Sally Thoreson (top right) will celebrate 68 years of marriage this October. Charles Flaska (bottom left) and Marilyn Flaska (bottom right) celebrated their 68th wedding anniversary on Valentine’s Day yesterday. LEONARD THORESON (top left) and Sally Thoreson (top right) will celebrate 68 years of marriage this October. Charles Flaska (bottom left) and Marilyn Flaska (bottom right) celebrated their 68th wedding anniversary on Valentine’s Day yesterday. Three octogenarians, two couples, one nonagenarian and 136 years of marriage.

It sounds like a crazy love riddle. And, in a way, it is.

The four Leelanau County residents are celebrating their 68th wedding anniversaries this year. Their stories serve as a testament to the sanctity of marriage.

Charles and Marilyn Flaska of Maple City exchanged their vows on Valentine’s Day in 1950. A dozen grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren later, the two are still happily married.

Marilyn was introduced to Charlie by his older brother. “His brother kept telling me he wanted me to meet Charles,” she said. “Then Glen brought him over and he asked me to the fair. He was working and I was working, but it took off.”

After a few months, they were married.

Looking back on more than a few years, Marilyn said keeping busy has been their key to relationship success.

And throughout their marriage, she and her husband, Charlie, have certainly stayed busy.

Early in their marriage, the Flaskas focused on growing two orchards of cherry trees. Later, they had children and then started Leelanau Redi Mix, which the family still owns today.

“We worked in the cherry orchards day and night. We did that together, but Charlie worked all the time,” Marilyn said. “He was a very hard worker.”

In fact, Marilyn made sure the family had a large meal every Sunday “so he wouldn’t work seven days a week.”

After 17 grandchildren and 22 great-grands, Sally and Leonard Thoreson are looking forward to their 68th wedding anniversary on Oct. 14.

The two met at a dance. Maybe it was the jitterbug, or the boogie-woogie.

“I never danced with anyone at the dances at Cedar Tavern,” Sally recalled. “I had never seen him before, but I was standing and saw this guy. The closer he came, my heart started going pitter-patter and I said ‘yes’.”

After four years, they decided to marry. The rest is history.

What secrets can they share about ever-lasting love?

“A lot of patience from both sides,” Sally Thoreson said.

Leonard agreed. “You have to have a lot of patience and love. Work things out together,” he said.

It’s also important to take care of the other person, Sally said. “I was telling my granddaughter who went and got a cookie but didn’t get one for her husband, that she should have gotten him one. To this day, if (Leonard) wanted a cookie, I would still get him one.”

Even after all of the years, each of these four individuals has no problem sharing why they still love their longtime Valentine.

“The best thing is that he’s busy and has a lot of energy,” Marilyn said.

Charles smiled. “If I ask for money, she gives it to me,” he said. Then, with a more serious tone, he added, “There’s a lot of things.”

Sally shared, “He never complained about anything I cooked, and I never had to make a separate meal.”

“The good Lord blessed me when I met her at that dance,” Leonard said. ”And she’s a good cook. I can’t say enough about her.”

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