Madison, Wisconsin. 1948. Inez Gilbert met her future husband Gene through a mutual friend. He was one of many young men she met that night, but Gene stood out.
“I told her ‘well the only one I would possibly go out with is Gene Gilbert,'” Inez said.
And Gene liked her too. So the pair began dating. And when Gene gave Inez his fraternity pin, that sealed the deal.
“When you pin someone it’s like an engagement,” said Gene.
But the school year ended and Inez went back to New York City. The pair corresponded through letters all summer and shortly after graduating from the University of Wisconsin in 1949, they got married.
It was a small wedding located in Inez’s parents’ apartment in NYC. A few family members and friends attended. The pair stayed in a hotel that night and spent their honeymoon driving to Milwaukee.
Their marriage started off humbly, living in a one-bedroom apartment near the Oriental Theater on Milwaukee’s east side.
With a fold-up bed and a view of a brick wall, they started their life together.
Now, 68 years later, they live in a high-rise senior living community, with views of the city and Lake Michigan.
“We’ve been very lucky,” said Inez. “I thank my lucky stars everyday.”
Together, they have traveled to 128 countries. They’ve set sail on cruises around the world and have lived briefly in exotic places like India, Pakistan and Poland.
But they’ve also enjoyed separate lives.
“There are three of us; me, Inez and Us, and that makes a big difference,” said Gene. “We do things together, we enjoy them, but Inez does things separately and all our married life, I did things separately. So we both had our individual lives but we had our life together. That was probably the key to success.”
They raised three children and now have six grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. Inez still volunteers and Gene takes classes at UW-Milwaukee.
They said they of course fought over the years but actually encourage arguments in a marriage.
“It’s healthy,” said Inez. “You can’t always be on the same page.”
Then Gene gave a piece of advice said many times before. But cliches are cliches for a reason. “Always kiss goodnight.”
“It’s nothing, but it’s something.”