October 1, 2014
These days, when it’s common to hear about short-lived marriages and quick divorces, celebrating a 25th anniversary is big news. Reaching 50 years is almost unheard of. But Myrl and Frances Ellis can attest to the fact that living with the same person for 73 years is not only possible, but can be a lot of fun, too.
Myrl and Frances have known each other since they were in 7th grade. They were in the same class for junior high and high school and graduated in a class of 15 seniors. A year after graduation, the two were married. The date, Sept. 13, 1941, was one week after Myrl’s 19th birthday. Frances, a few months older than her “tall, dark and handsome basketball star,” was already 19.
The newlyweds briefly lived in Felicity, Ohio, in a small apartment they rented for $15 a month. After that, they moved to a little town outside of Cincinnati. While Myrl had grown up on a farm, it wasn’t long before he was building instead of farming.
The first time Myrl came up in the draft, he was working at a factory that built airplanes—a job the United States government considered a “reserved occupation” since it helped the war effort, so he was excused from serving. When he was drawn again the next year, he didn’t contest being drafted. However, because of his work experience, he continued building planes even during his time in the Army.
While Myrl was working for Uncle Sam, Frances raised their first baby daughter, Charlotte. According to Frances, she had to “stoke [her] own fire and kill [her] own chickens.”
Myrl was in the Army for three years. After his discharge, the family moved to Oklahoma where he attended an airplane mechanic school. At this time the Ellises’ second daughter, Dianne, was born.
From Oklahoma, the family of four relocated to Miami, Florida, where Myrl had accepted a job with Eastern Airlines as a mechanic. After 43 years (which included the birth of their son, William Myrl Ellis Jr.), Myrl retired and the couple moved to Ocala.
After about 20 years in Ocala, Dianne suggested the Ellises visit Advent Christian Village, a retirement community near some land she and her husband were buying. One trip was all it took, and Myrl and Frances have now been part of this vibrant community for six years.
The Ellises are both in very good health and enjoy living independently at Advent Christian Village. In their 90s, this couple has experienced a lot of change. After Myrl’s father bought the family farm, Mother brought six-month-old Myrl to the land in a horse-drawn buggy.
When asked if they know any secrets to a long, happy marriage, they both talk about having a sense of humor. “We tease a lot,” says Frances. “When things aren’t that serious, you make a joke about it,” adds Myrl.
Myrl has been a jokester for a long time. When the couple became engaged, Frances’s mother asked her, “How do you know he’s serious?” Myrl also remembers that, while on a trip during the time between Frances’s 40th birthday and his, he boasted about being in his 30s and being married to a woman in her 40s.
The couple has been able to enjoy a lot of travel throughout their marriage because Myrl’s line of work allowed them to fly for free. They aren’t comfortable flying anymore, but they have some fond memories of past trips.
An inspiration and a delight, this couple that confesses that they “kiss quite a lot” can be found enjoying life at their home along the Suwannee River and looking forward to a big party on their 75th wedding anniversary in two years.