99-Year-Old Great-Grandparents Celebrate 80th Wedding Anniversary: 'I Still Love Him, Whiskers and All!'
80 Years Strong
Donald and Vivian Hart, both 99, celebrated their 80th wedding anniversary on June 25 with 30 friends and family at their assisted living facility in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
The longtime lovebirds tied the knot back in 1937 in an intimate ceremony at their pastor's house. "We had a small wedding compared to what they throw now," Vivian tells PEOPLE. "My favorite thing about the wedding was just getting to marry him!" And Donald couldn't wait for the actual ceremony to be over because "I just wanted to be married to her," he tells PEOPLE. "She was really a pretty bride."
'I Like Everything About Him!'
The couple met in the 1930s when Donald walked Vivian and her friends home from church — and they've been together ever since. "I like everything about him!" says Vivian. "When we are in a good mood we have so much fun." Says Donald: "My favorite thing about Vivian is her steadfastness."
Through Thick and Thin
And that devotion never wavered — even when Donald was drafted during World War II. "We make our marriage work by taking it to the Lord in prayer," explains Vivian. "Our relationship with God came first." And Donald says honesty is key in their relationship. "Being honest about things and not pretending when things are not okay," he says. "I always try to do things that make Vivian happy."
Donald served in the Air Force before spending more than 20 years working at a chair production company and Vivian is a chalk artist. They have three sons, four grandchildren, fourteen great-grandchildren and five great-great-grandchildren together — many of whom attended their anniversary party.
The Power of Music
Vivian and Donald both love music, so it was no surprise when Donald surprised her by singing "Let Me Call You Sweetheart" by Bing Crosby at the celebration. "We've made our marriage work by being true to each other and honest," says Donald.
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Heroes in Love
The longtime couple's great-granddaughter, 28-year-old Andi Ripley, calls them her "heroes." "They have endured so much during their lives and have loved each other through sickness and want," Ripley tells PEOPLE. "Their marriage is inspiring, I pray I have their perseverance."
Vivian and Donald believe the touching lyrics "When your hair has turned to silver / I will love you just the same / I will only call you sweetheart / That will always be your name" from Perry Como's "When Your Hair Has Turned to Silver" sums up their relationship nicely. "I'm afraid I still love him, whiskers and all!" says Vivian with a giggle. Adds Donald: "Yeah, I love her too. "