DESTIN, Fla. (WKRG) — On the third day of a college choir trip to New York, Jim Beall asked a sorority girl in the choir named Valerie to ride with him to Niagara Falls in his car. It was March 1942.
Valerie had been traveling in a different car, one of nine cars used to carry the Wittenberg College choir to New York.
On that fateful day, Valerie agreed to ride with Jim, and they went off to the “honeymoon capital of New York,” she said.
The two instantly hit it off and rode in the same car together throughout the trip. By the time they arrived back in Springfield, Ohio, they were dating.
Last November, Jim and Valerie Beall celebrated 75 years of marriage.
“We went together for about a year and there was no question that we were going to go on and get married,” Jim said. “We were in college. She was a sorority girl. I was a fraternity boy. And there was just no absolutely no question that this was it.”
The Destin couple sat down with News 5 last week to discuss their lives and 75 years of marriage.
For about 45 years, the Bealls lived in Erie, Pennsylvania. They had five children.
Valerie was a school teacher and Jim helped run Valerie’s parents’ trucking business.
Eventually, Valerie’s parents turned over the company to them, and they ran it for about 15 more years.
In about 1990, they moved to Destin, where they have lived now for 30 years.
After all this time, it’s clear from a 15-minute interview with News 5, they are still very much in love.
Valerie said she loves Jim’s memory and intelligence.
“He has a great memory. He has a great mind. We can discuss anything,” she said. “I mean, why get mad when you can talk it out?”
Jim says Valerie is charming and always calm and relaxed — sometimes too relaxed, he joked.
“We never fight. We don’t argue. She never raises her voice. She never yelled at any of our five children. She never yells at me. She very gentle in her approach in everything. She’s calm about everything,” Jim said.
“Last year, I was sitting in the living room reading the paper and watching the news, and she says, ‘problem in the kitchen.’ I said, ‘What?’ She said, “problem in the kitchen.’ I look up and the kitchen is on fire. The entire kitchen was a massive flame.
“She didn’t panic and didn’t get excited. If she had been on the Titanic, all of the lifeboats would have been launched. Everyone would have been saved. Everything would have been calm. The ship would have gone down and everyone would have floated away.”
News 5 asked the couple, as they sat nuzzled on a couch at their home in Destin, what the key is to a long, successful marriage. Valerie said it was her promise to God.
“We pledged to stay married. We gave our word to each other and to the church and to God,” she said.
Communication is also key, they said.
“We’ve been married 75 years. We’ve probably had three disagreements. My fault. My fault. My fault,” Jim said. “So I’m waiting for the fourth disagreement so I can say, “What happened here?!”
Jim told News 5 the two have lived an “interesting life,” one full of happiness. He has no complaints — not even about the amount of asparagus Valerie puts on his plate.
He didn’t eat vegetables before they were together, Valerie said. She had to train him.
“When she puts my asparagus on my plate, she puts enough asparagus to make me healthy but not enough asparagus to make me unhappy. How can I complain about a woman who knows the difference between the right amount of asparagus?”
Jim offered up his advice for couples who want to have a marriage like he does.
“Be nice to each other. Be kind. Be faithful. Be true,” he said. “Don’t chase around and do nasty things. Always be nice. She’s always nice to me.”
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