Faith, forgiveness, hockey key to couple’s 67 Valentine's Days together

Brock A. Stein | 2/14/2018, 6:58 a.m. | Updated on 2/14/2018, 8:12 a.m.
Bob and Ruth Koppen of Shorewood will celebrate Valentine's Day this year at the Timbers retirement community. The couple, from ...
Bob and Ruth Koppen will celebrate Valentine’s Day this year with a quiet evening at home. The couple says that the key to their successful 67-year marriage has been their faith, the power of forgiveness and their shared love for Blackhawks hockey. (photo by Brock A. Stein) Photo by Brock A. Stein

For Valentine’s Day this year, Bob and Ruth Koppen won’t be going out for a romantic dinner or celebrating with a night on the town.

The Joliet couple, who married in 1950, will probably exchange cards. There may be some flowers for Ruth.

“Bob sends me flowers quite often,” said Ruth, 88, of her husband of over 67 years. The couple lived on Edgerton Ave. in Joliet for over 30 years and now share an apartment at the Timbers retirement community in Shorewood.

The Koppens first met when Bob, now 91, moved to Joliet in 1947 after he got out of the service during World War II. He had migrated from Chicago, where he was born and raised, and first encountered his future wife in 1948 at a youth group they both joined at their church, St. Peter’s Lutheran, 310 N. Broadway St.

Ruth’s not sure how the couple first came to start dating but Bob’s memory is clearer on the subject.

He said that the church group of mostly young people in their 20s got together for outings and during a trip to see the Blackhawks play he remembers that he and Ruth first locked eyes.

He said that the guys were sitting grouped together at one end of a row with the girls gathered in their own clique on the other end.

“We were watching the game and I looked her way and she was doing the same thing,” he said. After the game, he escorted her home.

The couple got engaged after about a year of dating and waited for spring before getting married in May of 1950.

Bob said that one of the keys to their successful marriage, and celebrating over 67 Valentine’s Days together, comes down to the solid foundation of their shared faith.

“Our faith in Jesus Christ kept us together,” said Bob. Ruth concurs, noting “all of the blessings He gave us.” That includes the couple’s three kids—2 girls and a boy— as well as 5 grand kids and 3 great grand kids.

That faith also helped them overcome any rough patches during their married lives as well.

“When we had our problems here or there, we always were able to overcome those because of our faith,” said Bob.

“It seems like if we had something that we didn’t agree about we always figured it out,” said Ruth who said that “forgiveness and lots of love” have also helped them along the way.

That, and a shared love of Blackhawks hockey which the couple still watches together.

“They haven’t been doing too well this year, but we can’t win all the time,” said Ruth.