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Mutual respect the secret to Barrie couple's lasting love song

Despite the fact they’re approaching their Platinum anniversary, one Barrie couple is adamant there is no real secret to their success.
L: Frances and Arnold Reimer on their wedding day. R: Frances and Arnold Reimer celebrate another Valentine's Day together after nearly 70 years of marriage.

Despite the fact they’re approaching their platinum anniversary, one Barrie couple is adamant there is no real secret to their success.

Arnold and Frances Reimer tell BarrieToday it’s been more about sticking to their beliefs and working through the hard times that got them to where they are today — which is set to celebrate 70 years of 'happily ever after' in September.

“We were raised in homes where biblical principles were highly respected," says Arnold. 90. "Part of that was, when we married, it was a lifelong experience. It was ‘til death us do part’ and we highly valued that and everybody around us valued that.

"In fact, we really didn’t know about people that divorced — we thought that just happened in Hollywood!”

They say that value taught them how to relate to one another and how to protect their own personal thinking and their relationship.

“That was very important to us and we tried to manage it as best we could,” he says.

Whenever they had differences, they worked on settling them.

"It was done with care, with love and acceptance and wisdom. It’s not easy, but that’s what makes marriage so wonderful," Arnold says. "Every phase was a different phase, a new experience and was something we tested together.

“Today, we love each other dearly. We enjoy each other and it would be a rare thing for us to even know what it means to argue. We just don’t seem to do it.”

Frances, who's 92, and Arnold hail from Saskatchewan and are self-proclaimed “hayseeds," having met while attending Bible College in Regina.

Arnold recalls the first time he saw Frances, telling BarrieToday he actually spotted her in a stairwell.

“She was coming down some stairs and I was going up those stairs. She said ‘hi’. That’s all I needed. I saw a pretty girl, with curly hair and my heart was gone. I was 18 years old and I was hooked,” he says from their home at The Barrieview, an independent living home in the city’s south end.

Frances may not remember that particular encounter, but it wasn’t long after that she also spotted him.

Arnold and Frances Reimer are as in love today as they were when they first got married, nearly 70 years ago. Image supplied

“I first noticed him in the college library. I thought there’s a neat-looking guy. He was dressed so nicely, his shoes polished … you can imagine that I even noticed that,” she says with a chuckle. “I hoped I could get to know him. At that point, I didn’t have a clue who he was.”

Arnold, being younger than his future wife, says he wasn’t intimidated by dating an older woman, adding he felt women his own age were “fickle.”

“I found a girl that was a bit older than I, and a little bit wiser,” he says.

Given the strict rules of the college, Arnold, who was a first-year student at the time, wasn't allowed to date, so it took the pair a bit of time before they were able to spend much time together. 

“The only way we connected was through circumstances of (larger) gatherings or whatever was going on," he says. "Then we were allowed to visit in the library … and that just brought us together."

As they continued to get to know one another over the next three years, Frances says it was Arnold’s commitment to the things that were important to him that drew her to him the most.

“When I got to know Arnold, I got to see he was pretty well settled on what he wanted to do with his life. He was very diligent in the things he was doing towards some of those goals,” she says of her husband, who went on to be a pastor for many years.

“He really seemed to have some definite goals in his life and was working towards them.”

As for Arnold, he says he was attracted to pretty much everything about Frances.

“She was a pretty girl and carefully dressed and I liked that. She was very diligent in her own way,” he says. 

After three years of dating, the couple married on Sept. 4, 1954. 

On their wedding day, while Frances was being walked down the aisle by her brother, Arnold did something he called “a little unusual” and sang to his bride.

“I was standing at the altar with the pastor of the church, and there were probably a couple hundred people there," he recalls. "When she came down that aisle, she came through the back doors and then she stood there with her brothers.

"I turned around and I sang to her ‘Because God made you mine I will cherish you through life and darkness, through all time to be.'”

Fifty years later, he sang it to her again.

“It was very special. That he would do such a thing and sing a song like that, which had such meaningful words, I really appreciated it and was deeply moved by it,” she said.

Frances describes her life partner as being loving and steadfast.

“Arnold is always the same — in his attitudes and his love for me. He lives his life and there’s not a lot of surprises in his character or his way of doing things and I love that about him. It speaks to me of dependence and I really appreciate that," she says. 

As for Arnold, he says it’s been his wife’s faithfulness and the creativity that she brought to his life that he most appreciates.

Over the years, the couple spent time in Saskatchewan, Toronto and even Colombia, where Arnold worked as a pastor before making the move to Barrie about 12 years ago. They also welcomed three sons, and now boast six grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren

“The two of us have become 30!” exclaims Arnold.