True love does exist. Walter and Eve Kisley of Macedonia are proof of that. They’ve been married 75 years.
Their daughter, Judy Herold, shared their beautiful love story with us today — on their anniversary:
Our parents, Walter and Eve Kisley, will be celebrating their 75th wedding anniversary on November 22nd. Our father is 97 years old and our mother is 95. They still live in their own home in Macedonia, OH. They are the proud parents of 9 children, grandparents of 32 and great grandparents of 45. Including spouses, there are 113 people in our immediate family with 106 of us living in the Cleveland area.
My father’s parents emigrated from Russia and my Mother’s parents from Yugoslavia. My parents discovered that they were actually born in houses right next to each other. They didn’t realize this until years later because my father’s family moved often due to the difficult economic times during and following the Depression. My father’s family was poor and it was difficult for him growing up. He sold newspapers on street corners downtown, hitching a ride each day on the trolley. There were times when he didn’t even have a pair of shoes and the gifts they cherished at Christmas were pieces of fruit.
My mother’s family moved to Garfield Heights when she was ten years old. She graduated from Garfield Heights High School. My parents met at a wedding reception of my Dad’s former girlfriend. He didn’t want to go but a friend talked him into it. My father always tells us the story of how he saw my mom and it was love at first sight. He said she was the prettiest girl in the room. He asked her to dance and that was the start of their love story. They danced the Blue Skirt Waltz and that song has been their favorite polka waltz ever since. My father still says my mom is the prettiest girl he has ever seen.
My parents were married in 1941 and then my father was drafted. He served in the Army during WWII. When he was deployed the men were told to dress warm. This led them to believe they were heading to Europe but they were instead routed to the Panama Canal and off to the Japanese front. My dad served as a mortar operator in New Guinea. He was wounded in battle and earned a Purple Heart for his service. My father still talks about the war and tells interesting stories about his time in New Guinea. He also enjoys watching the Military Channel and WWII documentaries to this day.
After the war was over, my parents devoted themselves to our family. They did a wonderful job raising 9 children on one income. My mother worked at Jack and Heinz in Maple Heights during the war. She worked 12 hour shifts 7 days a week. She also had a job at a department store as an elevator operator but when my oldest sister was born, she refocused her time and energy to her family, church and community. My father worked at the Woolen Mills until in closed. He then worked for years as a mechanic at the East Ohio Gas Company until retirement.
My parents are the most selfless people any of us have ever known. Over all the years they never took expensive vacations or went out to fancy restaurants. My mom had a home cooked meal on the table every single day. They would pile all nine kids into a car and take us to the Nickel Days at Euclid Beach and then to the East Ohio Gas company picnics at Geauga Lake. We would also go to Cedar Point every year and an occasional one day trip to Niagara Falls. We never felt anything but love in our family.
We lived in a great, close knit community surrounding St. Lawrence Parish on East 82ndstreet. My parents served the St. Lawrence community until the church closed just a few years ago. My mother organized bake sales, rummage sales, sang in the church choir and was a member of the Altar Society. She helped raise money for the church and those in need and even made meals for the less fortunate in our neighborhood. My father was a member of the Holy Name Society. He would drive many of the sick and elderly in our neighborhood to their doctor appointments. They loved and cherished St. Lawrence and we are so sad they are not able to celebrate their anniversary in the same church they were married in.
Beyond the care they provided for their children, my mom has also cared for other members of her family. When my grandfather became ill and blind, my mom took him in and cared for him until he passed. Shortly afterward, my grandmother moved in and she cared for her until she died. A few years later, my uncle was diagnosed with cancer so my mom made a room in our home for him. She stayed at his side until his death. Her youngest sister who lives in Iowa was also diagnosed with cancer within the last year. When my mom heard she didn’t have much time, she made the trip out to Iowa at the age of 94 to spend the last few days with her sister. When my daughter was born with Cerebral Palsy in 1992, my parents sold their home in Cleveland and moved to Strongsville so they could help with my daughter’s care. My mom has one remaining sibling. One other sister died when she was 16 from pneumonia. Her oldest sister is 98 and my mom visits her each and every week at the nursing home. My mother has always put her needs aside in order to care for others. She is the definition of selflessness.
My parents now spend their time together at their home in Macedonia. My dad loves watching game shows and listening to Polkas. My mom provides my dad with the best care and he often calls her “Dr. Eve” saying he wouldn’t be alive today if it weren’t for her. My siblings (especially those that are retired) help my parents each and every day. My oldest sister is now 73 and I am the youngest at 52. There are 5 girls and 4 boys. We have an amazing, happy family. Nobody ever believes me when I say we never argue. We have many fun get-togethers for birthdays and holidays….sometimes with 100 or more people attending.
We owe all we have to our parents. They have taught all of us the greatest lesson in life…..to put others before ourselves. Hopefully we will all live by their example and pass the values they instilled in us on to our children and grandchildren.