“Don’t give up.”

Ralph and Theresa Kloehn have spent an exciting 55 years together. They’ve traveled the country, the world AND managed to have seven children at some point too.

ralph and theresa
Ralph and Theresa Kloehn will celebrate their 56th wedding anniversary on November 4. 

The couple met while they were both in the Navy in the late 1950s. Ralph says he noticed Theresa one day and decided to strike up a conversation.

“I saw her in the line where you get your paychecks and I said ‘hey that’d be a good person to get to know,” he says while laughing.

It only took two weeks and they were dating. After two years together, Ralph popped the question.

“I proposed when we were driving one day,” he said. “We talked about it in a roundabout way for some time.”

Theresa grew up in the south and still has an adorable southern drawl. She says Ralph made the trip to her hometown to get her mother’s approval.

They ended up marrying in Great Lakes, IL to be closer to Ralph’s mother who was ill. Friends and family attended and Ralph’s boss in the navy walked Theresa down the aisle.

After leaving the Navy, the couple settled in Milwaukee where Ralph would eventually find a love for plastic surgery.

In his third year of fellowship in plastic surgery, the entire family moved to Nairobi, Kenya so Ralph could perform reconstructive surgery on the native people. He says it was challenging work but they enjoyed their time there.

They would eventually end up with their own plastic surgery center in Milwaukee, where they both worked.

“Theresa was one of the nurses there,” said Ralph. “She’d go in there first and get any complaints they might have so when I went in there, it was pretty smooth.”

Ralph retired in 2007 and now the couple live at the Milwaukee Catholic Home. They attend art class together and still love to travel.

And they believe couples getting married today need to understand the commitment first.

“I don’t think people marry today for commitments,” said Theresa. “I think they just marry to try it out.”

“It’s not going to be easy,” said Ralph. “There are lots of joys in it but it’s not easy on the other hand. Don’t give up. Sometimes you have to eat crow.”

And if there’s one thing that’s helped them through the years:

“Laugh a lot,” said Theresa. “You can’t cry all the time so you might as well laugh.”

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