More than 60 years ago, two small-town farming kids from Holland met and fell in love.
“When we first got married, it looked like we were just meant for each other,” said Mary Goris.
She and her husband Hank met when they were both in their early 20s living in Holland. It didn’t take long for them to realize they had found the one. But before they could get married, they decided to make another huge life decision and move to a different country.
“We wanted to go to the U.S. but it would take five years,” said Mary. “So instead of waiting in Holland, we decided to move to Canada. We could get to know the language, how people live.”
After moving to London, Ontario, Hank and Mary Goris decided to marry. But they were in a foreign country, with very limited knowledge of the English language.
Mary was working a cleaning job at a Catholic church rectory. And it was the church staff who planned their entire wedding for them, everything from the photographer to the cake.
“It was very simple, but we were fine with it,” said Mary.
After their citizenship was approved, they moved to South Bend, Indiana, where Mary had family living.
A few years later, they ended up in Wisconsin when Hank took a pilot job with Kimberly-Clark. At the time, he flew VIPs to Green Bay Packers games, not having any clue what football was.
“He comes back and says ‘you will not believe where I’ve been,'” said Mary. “He says ‘I was at this game, they call it football, but it’s the dumbest game I’ve ever seen. And now we would give a fortune to go.”
Now, almost 60 years later, both Hank and Mary have held on to their dutch accents. They talk with me while sitting in a dining room at the Milwaukee Catholic Home, where they now live.
In just two months, they will celebrate their diamond wedding anniversary, likely at a lake house they rent with their family.
They say that over the years, they’ve found respect to be the most important thing in their marriage.
“Respect each other and accept the differences instead of changing each other,” said Mary. “Try to accept each other and that takes work.”
Together they have six children and 11 grandchildren. And despite reaching the milestone of 60 years of marriage, they both say their greatest accomplishment is raising their children.
“That was my goal to raise children to become good citizens,” said Mary. “And I feel they are. That is the crown definitely.”