A Kentucky Valentine's love story spans more than 50 years
Computer dating, and now online matchmaking has helped hundreds of millions of people meet. It’s estimated last year that thirteen percent of people using a dating site eventually got engaged or married, that’s according to data research firm Statista.
Back in the 1950s and early 1960s, computer matching of couples was just getting started, and that’s how one Lexington couple met more than 53 years ago.
Dick Owen, who is 77 years old now, grew up in a small town named Delmar in New York State not far from Albany. About 12 miles away, his future wife Sherry, now 74, grew up in the town of Cohoes.
When Sherry was ten, she remembers watching a popular television show called The Art Linkletter House Party that included a segment using a computer to match couples. The couples filled out a questionnaire on their likes, dislikes, physical attributes, and the geographic area they wished to meet someone. The show would introduce couples on television to talk about their first date.
Sherry says, “Well I’m ten years old, when grow up, I’m going to do that. And I walk into my college library and there’s an application.”
She was 19 and going to a community college when she sent in the questionnaire. When her computer matches came back, Sherry, had five names of men, and the last one was Dick Owen. She wrote him a letter introducing herself. It turns out he had also filled out an application for the computer dating match, but Sherry’s name was not on his list of matches.
Dick remembers, “I get this letter from a girl I don’t know. So, I’m playing the guessing game before I open up the envelope. Who is Sherry Mason? I have no idea.” Dick wrote Sherry, and they started writing each other in the months to follow.
Their first face-to-face date came on Thanksgiving Day 1967. Dick recalls driving up to her house and feeling a bit nervous. He was about to meet Sherry and her entire family. She was nervous too. I asked them if it was love at first sight. Sherry says, “No. No. I was too nervous.” Dick agrees. “No definitely not. It was a very slow evolution type of thing for me. It grew on me as time went on. I always liked her red hair, and she had blue eyes, and they sparkled.”
One and a half years later in June 1969, Dick and Sherry were married. Dick says, “there are so many things that we, whether it be jewelry, furniture, whatever, almost everything we like together. There are very few things that we disagree on which I think has made our marriage very successful. That doesn’t mean we don’t have disagreements at times.”
The couple had three children and eventually moved to Lexington where Dick was a police officer for almost 25 years.
They celebrated each wedding anniversary at a different restaurant, and Dick would arrange to have a special cake for the occasion. “I would usually design my own cakes. The bakeries don’t like that because they have signature cakes, and I’d go in there, and this is what I want, and this is how I want it decorated.”
They also had a practice of always kissing at least once or twice a day. The couple will celebrate 54 years of marriage in June.
What are some of the keys to a long and happy marriage? Sherry says communication and compromise, and Dick agrees. “Lots of compromise. A lot of give and take. And I tell people it’s an everyday thing. It’s not just a one-time-a-week thing, a one-time-a-month thing. You have to compromise just about every day, and you have to work at it.” Sherry says, “many times you know, you just don’t say anything, turn around and leave the room.”
I asked them how they celebrate Valentine’s Day, and they both said they didn’t until much later in their marriage. Sherry says, “I never heard of people celebrating it until one time I had asked my babysitter if she could babysit, and I didn’t even know it was Valentine’s Day, and we weren’t going to do anything.”
It sounds like love and friendship were not dependent on them celebrating Valentine’s Day. But patience on other matters of life and relationships is important. Dick recommends this on marriage.
“Take your time, don’t rush into it. There’s more than enough time to make decisions. That’s a big decision that’s going to affect you for the rest of your life.”
Congratulations to Dick and Sherry Owen of Lexington on 53 years of marriage and counting.