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Curt and Irene Drake

Joe Rondone / HP staff

75 years of love

Curtis and Irene Drake laugh about how they’ve managed to keep their marriage strong over the last 75 years at the couple’s house along Van Auken Lake. After listening for a while to the reasons Irene has listed, Curtis gives one reason he thinks their relationship has lasted: “You know who talks and who don’t.” The Drakes marked their 75th anniversary on Sunday.

By Andrew Lersten
Herald Palladium
South Haven Bureau

July 17, 2013

Curtis and Irene Drake enjoying marathon marriage

HARTFORD — Curtis and Irene Drake can teach young people a thing or two about a long, successful marriage.

And by young, they mean people in their 80s.

The Drakes, who live along Van Auken Lake north of Hartford, marked their 75th anniversary Sunday. Family and friends will stop by July 21 to formally celebrate their diamond anniversary.

Curtis, 97, married his wife, 95, after they met in Chicago. They raised two children.

Curtis has advice for younger married couples: “Take it one step at a time. And there’s got to be give and take.”

Irene said the secret to a good marriage is working hard and staying busy.

“We never thought of getting a divorce,” she said. “You just go on living. We’ve just been able to hang in there.”

The couple dispensed two other good tips. First, never go to bed mad. Second, always kiss each other good night.

“I don’t believe in fighting,” Irene said.

For those attending the celebration later this month, there is a logistical problem. It’s awful hard to find a good 75th anniversary card. Perhaps they would settle for a 50th anniversary card coupled with a 25th anniversary card.

The Drakes say they have been blessed with good health and are fortunate to still live on their own in their house.

How long can they expect to stay married?

“As long as we’re still wiggling around,” Irene joked.

For the Drakes, it’s important that they both pursue their own personal interests, too.

Curtis is active in two area camera clubs and is a member of an area gun club, while Irene still plays bingo twice a week, according to their daughter, Jean Johnson, of Jenison.

Curtis is a retired farmer and Venetian blinds salesman.

Johnson said her father grew up on a Centennial Farm near Bangor and attended the Van Auken Lake one-room school. He graduated from Hartford High School [HHS 1935] and joined his uncle in the Venetian blinds business in Chicago.

Irene was raised in Alexandria, Manitoba, and moved to Chicago to help an aunt, who struggled with arthritis.

Johnson said they met in church. Their first date was over an 11-cent sundae. They were married in 1938 in Alexandria.

They moved to Hartford in 1942 so they could manage Curtis’ brother’s farm.

Over the years he served with Hartford schools and the Bangor Township Board. His love of hunting led him to the Southwestern Michigan Gun Club, where he still competes, Johnson said.

Irene has been involved in several social clubs and often attends the Hartford Senior Center.                                    


Daughter, Jean Drake Johnson, is a HHS 1963 grad and son, Dale Drake, is a HHS 1966 graduate.

Information for this web site was gathered from personal interviews, newspaper articles, scrapbooks, personal photo albums, and other documented materials - many available to the public at the Hartford Public Library or Van Buren County Historical Museum.  Please report any typographical errors, updated information, or incorrectly stated information to the webmaster for correction.  Reprinting for personal and instructional purposes is permitted, however, unauthorized commercial reprinting of this information or unauthorized linking to photos-pictures on this site is strictly prohibited without written permission from the webmaster. 

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Pearls In Our Past - Hartford Michigan
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Revised: March 23, 2009