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Couple married for 71 years shares love story

The couple loves spending together out on the water. They had a sailboat here on Lake Lanier for 20 years and they would go out nearly every weekend.

DACULA, Ga. — Ann and Ken Hetzel have been married for 71 years. They're 96 and 90 now.

The couple loves spending together out on the water. They had a sailboat here on Lake Lanier for 20 years and they would go out nearly every weekend.

But they said spending time apart to do things they love separately is important as well. 

That, and a whole lot of laughter. 

 Ken and Ann Hetzel's wedding was the hottest affair of 1950. 

"It was on fire," Ann said. 

She means that literally. 

When she went to toss the bouquet, her flowers caught a candle and ignited her veil on the way out of her hands. 

"When I threw it, fortunately, no one was at the tables, but two tables caught on fire. I was hysterical," she said. 

It was a dramatic start to a union they both describe as kind, loving, and calm. 

"We didn't argue very much. We discussed things and appreciated each other's opinions," she said. 

The two met at a cocktail party in January of 1950 and were engaged 3 months later. 

"I didn't want to get married, I was very happy– until you met me," Ken and Ann said. 

Credit: Provided
Ann and Ken Hetzel have been married for 71 years.

In the 71 years since, they've come to admire a lot about each other. 

"He is very truthful and trusting, he has a good personality," Ann said. 

"Her beauty, and the fact that she puts up with me," Ken said. 

The Hetzels waited 5 years to start their family, so they could travel and enjoy each other's company. 

They raised three boys together and stayed engaged in the community.

"He had his things to do, and I had my things, and we had a lot to talk about," Ann said. 

Ken is a WWII veteran who served as the President of the Chamber of Commerce. 

Ann was an avid golfer and taught mahjong. 

They found things they loved to do together as well. 

They're both elders in the church and spent every free weekend sailing together. 

"We spent 20 years on that boat.... every weekend we were up there in the nice weather," she said. 

They retired at the Arbor Terrace Hamilton Mill Senior Living Community in Dacula– where they both still enjoy meeting new friends and joining clubs there. 

They said their secret  – to a long marriage isn't really a secret at all–  just enjoy the time you have together and remember to laugh. 

"I always joke: When the minister married us, he tied the knot too tight and now we can't get a part," Ken said. 

The Hetzels will celebrate their 72nd wedding anniversary this Thanksgiving.

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