"They are as in love as they were when they first got married," Ellen Kotarski tells PEOPLE

By Rose Minutaglio
Updated January 15, 2016 11:45 AM
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Courtesy Eileen Kotarski

Their love story spans decades.

Seventy years ago, Francis Conway, then 24, proposed to Marcella McAllister, then 23, in a letter from overseas – the Army soldier was stationed in Japan during World War II and “couldn’t wait” until he got home.

The couple, who married on January 5, 1946, celebrated their 70th anniversary in Batavia, New York, on January 2 in a ceremony put on by their children.

“They are as in love as they were when they first got married,” Francis, 94, and Marcella’s eldest daughter, Eileen Kotarski, 69, tells PEOPLE. “You can tell by the way they look at each other and the way she smiles at him.”

Kotarski says there were 80 family members in attendance for the heartwarming anniversary celebration, including seven of Marcella, 93, and Francis’s nine children, 20 grandchildren, 36 great-grandchildren and five great-great grandchildren.

Kotarski says her mother and father, both in wheelchairs, still love teasing each other.

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“We asked mom and dad if they knew why we were celebrating and my mom said, ‘An anniversary!’ and then dad winked at her and goes ‘Whose?’ ” Kotarski says with a laugh. “It’s adorable, you can tell they are still so happy with each other.”

The longtime lovebirds reside in the New York State Veterans Home in Batavia and are “completely happy and content with each other.”

“They’ve stuck together through thick and thin,” their daughter says. “And they always will.”