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State Winners for 2013 Longest Married Couple Project Announced by Worldwide Marriage Encounter

Contact: Dick & Diane Baumbach, Worldwide Marriage Encounter, 321-544-3440, dickanddiane66@bellsouth.net

SAN BERNARDINO, Calif., Jan. 31, 2013 /Christian Newswire/ -- The 2013 state winners of the annual Longest Married Couple Project, sponsored by Worldwide Marriage Encounter (WWME), the original faith based marriage enrichment program in this country, were announced today.

"We are amazed and thrilled at the number of couples married 70 years or more and we are particularly impressed that four of the couples taking the state honors each have over 79 years of marriage," explained Ron and Judy Pekny, the United States Leadership Team for WWME. The Peknys serve with Fr. Rocky Grimard as the U.S. Ecclesial Team.

"There were hundreds of nominations submitted," the Peknys explained, adding, "Among the winners there are many couples with 70 plus years of marriage and also quite a few with 60 plus years of marriage. That truly is a testament to having a commitment to a long marriage!"

The longest married couple in the United States, based on the nominations submitted, is John and Ann Betar of Fairfield, CT. They are married over 80 years having made their marriage vows on Nov. 25, 1932. The Peknys will be traveling to Mr. & Mrs. Betars' hometown on Feb. 9th to personally honor them at a special ceremony.

As in previous years of the three year old project, individual state winners will be recognized and honored by couples involved with Worldwide Marriage Encounter, from all across the country, over the Valentine’s week and weekend.

Winners of the project are automatically made members of the Worldwide Marriage Encounter Longest Married Couple Project Alumni group. Couples cannot succeed themselves each year as either national or state winners, thus giving an opportunity to honor other longest married couples across the country.

The Peknys also pointed out that the project is based on nominations received from October 15th the previous year to January 10th of the current year.  "We realize there could be couples married longer, but we did not receive their nominations from friends or family during the nominating period," they said.  They also pointed out that there were no nominations for several states.

The list of the 2013 state winners and their hometowns and wedding dates are as follows:

Arkansas -- Bernie & Helen Kremer                  
71 years
Fort Smith, AR
November 17, 1941

California -- Scott & Thelma Dowell                 
78 years 
McCloud, CA
March 6, 1934

Colorado -- John & Delores Siran                      
65 years 
Colorado Springs, CO
October 11, 1947

Delaware -- Bill & Ginny Miller                        
70 years
Dover, DE
August 7, 1942

Florida -- Raymond & Valentine Cassagnol      
69 years 
Oviedo, FL
December, 23, 1943

Georgia -- Bill & Jacque Dean                           
70 years
Acworth, GA
May 16, 1942

Hawaii -- Joseph & Helen Vierra                       
75 years 
Waimanalo, HI
August 28, 1937

Idaho -- Norman & Edith Warren                       
79 years
Weiser, ID
April 7, 1933

Illinois -- Phil & Kay Bail Sr.                              
71 years 
Chicago, IL
September 9, 1941

Indiana -- Bob & June McAfee                          
65 years
Fort Wayne, IN
June 7, 1947

Iowa -- Leander & Odelia Cremer                      
72 years
Calmar, IA
February 5, 1940

Kansas -- Stewart & Joyce Boone                      
64 years
Garden City, KS
August 15, 1948

Louisiana -- Henry & Ida Smith                        
60 years
Gonzales, LA
March 10, 1952

Maryland -- Dante & Olga Petrolini                  
74 years
Baltimore, MD
June 2, 1938

Massachusetts -- Constanty & Anne Raccis      
70 years 
East Longmeadow, MA
August 1, 1942

Michigan -- Ben & Ella Hensel                           
74 years
Linwood, MI
April 30, 1938

Minnesota -- Severin & Lorraine Haus               
69 years
St. Cloud, MN
September 23, 1943

Mississippi -- Kimble & Virgie Wallace            
72 years
Monticello, MS
April 13, 1940

Missouri -- Dean & Naomi Jackson                  
65 years
North Kansas City, MO
January 12, 1947

Montana -- Joe & Faye Donley                           
75 years
Forsyth, MT
June 5, 1937

Nebraska -- Rudge and Dottie Vifquain             
70 years
Lincoln, NE
November 8, 1942

New Jersey -- Giacomo & Antonia DiRienzo   
74 years
Burlington, NJ
June 12, 1938

New York -- Walter & Anna Patrick                  
75 years
Troy, NY
May 1, 1937

North Carolina -- Robert & Virginia Gerald    
79 years
Goldsboro, NC
April 12, 1933

North Dakota -- Wally & Ila Billing                
70 years
Enderlin, ND
July 5, 1942

Ohio -- Perry & Olive Daub                             
75 years
Columbus Grove, OH
December 24, 1937

Oregon -- Willis & Iola Hinkle                         
77 years
Mt. Angel, OR
July 3, 1935

Pennsylvania -- Clayton & Beatrice Herb        
79 years
Schuylkill Haven, PA
June 29, 1933

Rhode Island -- Eric & Doris Houston              
65 years
Coventry, RI
April 26, 1947

South Carolina -- Bob & Ethel Hirsch              
66 years
Myrtle Beach, SC
June 29, 1946

South Dakota -- Russ & Ann Lynn Graham    
53 years
Beresford, SD
March 6, 1959

Tennessee -- Grady & Flossie Bailey               
72 years
Flag Pond, TN
November 23, 1940

Texas -- Edwin & Gladys Chumchal                
67 years
Shiner, TX
February 12, 1945

Virginia -- Hubert & Marie Breeding              
74 years
Wise, VA
May 3, 1938

West Virginia -- John & Katherine Zinkus     
70 years
New Martinsville, WV
April 27, 1942

Wisconsin -- Roger & Rosella Feiten              
78 years
New Auburn, WI
April 10th, 1934

Wyoming -- Dan & Marcella Herrin                
72 years
Greybull, WY
October 12, 1940

Worldwide Marriage Encounter has been offering weekend experiences for over 44 years and is considered the original faith-based marriage enrichment program. The programs are continually updated to keep abreast of changes in society, and WWME now offers evening and half-day programs that are presented at parishes and other church facilities. The weekend program, traditionally presented as an overnight experience at a hotel or retreat center, can also be presented at facilities where the couples return to their homes in the evenings. WWME has a presence in almost 100 countries, which makes it the largest pro-marriage movement in the world.  In North America, the WWME programs are presented in English, Spanish, French, and Korean languages.

Worldwide Marriage Encounter offers married couples the opportunity to spend time together away from the busyness of the world to focus on each other. It offers tools for building and maintaining a strong, Christian marriage in today's world. To learn more about the Worldwide Marriage Encounter weekends online go to wwme.org or you can call 1-800-795-LOVE (English) and 1-800-599-AMOR (Spanish), or contact the WWME Office at (909) 863-9963.