By Colton Hall, Staff Writer
Blind dates don’t usually result in 70 years of marriage.
The typical blind date might end with a number exchange, but usually it ends with the possibility of never talking to that person again.
That wasn’t the case for Clair and Shirley Turgeon.
After nearly 70 years of marriage, where they raised eight children and made many memories, the Turgeons are a couple unlike any other. There’s no other way to put it. Clair and Shirley are a couple “for the ages.” They’re one of a kind.
Finding love can be difficult. Most of the time it happens unexpectedly. The right person will come along, but that takes time and patience.
If you know Clair, he’ll tell you that he knew Shirley would be the woman he would spend the rest of his life with from the first moment he saw her. You could say luck had something to do with it.
The Turgeon’s love story began all the way back in 1946.
“In 1946, I was on a baseball team in Burke,” Turgeon said. “There was 13 of us on a team. Each Sunday, one of us had a Sunday off. We took turns. I wasn’t supposed to play ball on this one Sunday, but one day this guy by the name of Kenny Smith from Lucas called me, and asked if I could fill in for him because he had a wedding to go to. Of course, I said yes. We were going to play in Lincoln Township against a team called Dallas. We went down to the field, and I saw this blonde girl across on the other team.”
From that moment, there was no question that Shirley McKenzie would be the woman for Clair. It may have been love at first sight for him, but he had some work to do.
“I thought to myself that I probably should go talk to her, but I didn’t want to make a fool of myself,” Turgeon said. “I thought the best thing to do was to look at her and figure out who she was. I went home later that night, and told my mother that I saw the lady that I was going to marry that day. She asked what her name was, and I didn’t have a clue. And she said, ‘And you’re going to marry her?’ My sister Betty who was sitting there while we were talking said that Shirley would never talk to me.”
Shirley remembers Clair from the baseball game too. It’s funny how things work out though.
Some time passed, but eventually Clair would get his chance to connect with Shirley. Clair and Shirley were set up by a friend of Clair’s.
“About six months later, one of my good friends named Chuck Fellows had a date with a good friend of Shirley’s,” Turgeon said. “He said that we would flip a coin to see which one we went with. I never did see the coin. He told me that I would be going with Shirley. It was rigged.”
The blind date went well, and the Turgeon’s dated for a couple years. They ended up waiting a bit to get married, but it’s been an unbelievable journey ever since.
“I proposed to her in 1948, but she said no,” Turgeon said. “She wanted to graduate from high school first. She graduated from high school in 1949, and we got married that fall. We got married in 1949, and that was the start of a wonderful life. We’ve raised eight kids, and have absolutely no complaints.”
Turgeon will continue to joke about what happened, but make no mistake. The love hasn’t faded after 70 years.
“I have loved Shirley for over 70 years,” Turgeon said. ”We’re Christians, but we aren’t saints. We don’t say that to brag because we’re sinners just like everybody else. We can brag about one thing. We’ve raised eight children, and four have served in the military.”
Whenever someone sees an older couple in public, for some, there is the goal to find a partner to get to that point. Nobody really thinks about the fights and different situations that happen in a marriage.
People just want to be happy. A big part of love is taking a chance. Other times people get lucky, and that luck can happen at any time.
“Again, we’re not perfect,” Turgeon said. “We’ve done things that we regret, but we’ve also done things that we’re proud of. This is life. When you go through life, you might ask yourself why you did some things. Later on you’ll realize that it turned out pretty well. I think the Lord does a lot of things that we don’t know about. I wasn’t supposed to play ball that Sunday, and I have a theory. I went down to play, and saw that blonde girl. I remember saying to myself, yep. That’s why I’m down here.”
When coming across an older couple, people might often find themselves asking the secret or the key to success for a marriage. The key to a happy marriage seems to be a simple one for the Turgeons.
“Sometimes, you have to know when to listen,” Turgeon explained. “A lot of couples who get divorced spend a lot of time yelling at each other. If both of you are yelling, then neither of you are listening. Sometimes, the best thing to do is stop talking, and listen. As the saying goes, you aren’t both right. Whether you’re right or wrong, it doesn’t matter. Sometimes you might have to go into the other room, and sit down. By the time you both cool off, you tend to forget what your argument was all about.”
Stories like this don’t come around every day. That’s what makes the Turgeon’s love story one for the ages.