“And they lived happily ever after” is a staple of married life, but one couple has taken their wedding vows so seriously, their life together is now a world record!
John Henderson, 106, and wife Charlotte, 105, of Austin, Texas, are set to celebrate their 80th wedding anniversary on 15 December. Their long relationship is so remarkable that they have been named the oldest living couple by the Guinness Book of World Records.
Their love story started in 1934 at the University of Texas. As students, John played guard for the football team, and Charlotte was studying to be a teacher. John can still recall the moment he first saw his future wife in a lecture hall. “Charlotte looked over her shoulder and smiled and I knew I wanted to take her on a date. She was anxious for me to ask her!”
The happy couple have been together ever since. During the Great Depression in 1939, they got married and spent $7 on the hotel room for their honeymoon. A lot of things may have changed since then, but the Hendersons love for each other has never waned.
These days, as a testament to their love for the University of Texas and the Longhorns, the Hendersons spend their time together at Longhorn Village, a retirement community in Austin that is associated with the university’s alumni group. They have been living in the senior living community for the past decade, where they enjoy watching sports and other pastimes.
“In our ages, we’ve slowed down somewhat,” John explained. “We used to go on cruises, but now we have to take it easy. We like watching sports and talking about what we’re going to do tomorrow.”
John attends a University of Texas game every year, and has maintained that tradition for the past 84 years. Since 2010, he has even earned the distinction of being the oldest living former UT football player. Nephew Jason Free often accompanies John to the games since the Hendersons have no children.
Jason has the utmost admiration for his uncle, and considers the couple as his relationship role models. “They don’t dwell on the past,” Jason said. “You won’t hear them say, ‘Oh, if only it were 1952 again, everything would be great.’ They are still making plans for their future together.”
Free added that Charlotte usually calls to check on them when he and his uncle are together at a football game, or out running errands. “She likes to know when John is going to be coming back,” Jason said.
After all these years, the pair remains happy and healthy. Asked about the secret to their longevity, John recommends exercise and having a positive attitude. “Live life in moderation and be cordial to your spouse.” And he laughingly adds, “But some people think it’s because we never had kids!”
Whatever the reason, the Henderson couple certainly embody a love story that has literally stood the test of time.