A big, close-knit family and compromise are the keys to marriage for Gene and Madeline Schmeeckle.
The Eustis, Neb., couple is celebrating their 65th wedding anniversary today.
"It's pretty easy to say," Gene said. "First off, we never fight. We stop and talk about it. We've had five kids and nine grandkids and nine great-grandkids. All of those people are very close to us."
Gene said they will celebrate quietly together today but will wait for a larger celebration on April 30 with the rest of their family, when one of their children gets married.
The couple was married in 1948 in Omaha, Madeline's hometown. In the 1970s, they moved back to Gene's hometown of Eustis, where they have lived ever since. They say they are proud to be Nebraska natives and residents, having spent just three years of their married life outside of Nebraska when Gene was in the U.S. Air Force.
Of German descent, Gene started The Shootin' Haus in Eustis. He operated the gun supply business from 1974 until he retired in 2000.
"In the 65 years that we were married, we did all of our business in Nebraska from Omaha when we first got married, all the way to Bridgeport in the Panhandle, and then we came home," he said.
Gene also celebrates his 88th birthday today. Madeline will turn 88 on Aug. 2.
"We're living our retired life and enjoying it very much," Gene said. "My wife is a great cook and a great housekeeper. She's a great grandmother. We just keep our family rolling. We're getting up there in age, and naturally we don't move as we once did."
After living in Eustis for the past 40 years, Gene said he and Madeline couldn't imagine living anywhere else. He said it's the people that make small towns. His two grandfathers, the paternal figures in the Koch and Schmeeckle families, homesteaded near Eustis in 1885.
"We live in a nice big house that we bought in 2000, and we have a very good time and have a lot of friends," he said. "The farm that I was born on is 2 1/2 miles east of here and is owned by my brother. We had a great time with our whole community from the time I was born until today."
Gene said one thing that keeps him motivated every year is hunting in northern Nebraska with his two sons.
"Hunting with those two boys and me is the key to our recreation for our entire life. Having a gun store, we had the choice of weapons," Gene said. "We go on a big deer hunt every year."