According to Reuters, John and Ann Betar eloped on Nov. 25, 1932, leaving their Syrian neighborhood in Bridgeport, Conn. for New York City to start a new life together in order to thwart Ann’s father’s plan of marrying her to a man 20 years her elder. She was 17 years old and John was 21. “Everyone was hopping mad, and my wife’s aunt consoled my father-in-law by telling him not to worry, the marriage won’t last,” said John, who is now 102.
“John was not the boy next door, but the boy across the street who I loved,” said Ann, 98. According to Reuters, they became friendly when he drove her to high school in his Ford Roadster. “That’s why she married me, she loved that car,” John joked.
To put it in historical perspective, when the couple got married in 1932, the Great Depression was at its worst, Franklin D. Roosevelt had just been elected president, John F. Kennedy was a high school student, and Adolf Hitler was about to come to power in Germany. “We have watched the world change together,” John Betar said. “The key is to always agree with your wife.”
According to Reuters, John and Ann Betar raised their family in Bridgeport, where John ran a grocery store before becoming a realtor.
As the Epoch Times reports, the couple now lives in Fairfield, Conn., and has five children, 14 grandchildren and 16 great-grandchildren. “That’s what makes life what it is. We were fortunate enough to live long enough to see this … and it’s really one of the most gratifying things in the world to see your great-grandchildren, to see your grandchildren become adults,” Ann told the Fairfield Citizen.
However, the couple has also experienced the pain of outliving their children, having lost one son and one daughter due to cancer within the past 15 years. “No matter how many children you have or how old they are, it’s the worst thing that can happen to a parent,” Ann Betar told Reuters. “But our oldest daughter is 80 years old.”
“They have this wonderful ability to accept life as it comes,” their daughter Renee Betar told ABC. “They have a way of trying to look around at the things that they do have — the family and the blessings. They came from a generation where there is such respect for each other and caring.”
John Betar has a few words of advice for newlyweds. “Get along. Compromise. Live within your means and be content,” he told ABC, before adding, “And let your wife be the boss.”