LANCASTER — A couple together for eight decades shares the secret to a long, happy life and marriage. They still drive and live independently in their Lancaster County home where they’re getting ready to celebrate a big milestone.

The year was 1935. Franklin D. Roosevelt was president, Social Security was signed into law, and Robert and Edith Mae Schaum began noticing each other.

“We met in 10th grade in high school,” Robert said.

“I looked over all the boys in the class, and I said there were about 10 that looked promising,” Edith Mae said. “I sort of weeded them down, and I thought, ‘That’s the one.’”

The smitten 15-year-olds began dating. They married at age 22 in 1942.

“I served from 1943 to 1946,” Robert said as he held up his military pictures.

Robert served in the U.S. Navy in World War II.

“We had no idea what our future held,” he said.

That future includes two grown children, their cat Cleocatera, and each other 75 years later.

“It’s unheard of,” Edith Mae said.

“People don’t know anybody who was ever married that long,” Robert said.

They are both 97 years old.

“In fact, the gals at the golf course told him he’s a cougar,” Edith Mae said.

Edith Mae is three months older. Her birthday is in June, and her husband’s is in September.

You may be wondering what’s the secret to longevity?

“Our diet is not excessive. I mean, we enjoy eating. We enjoy going out for dinner and an occasional cocktail. We’ll order in pizza and have beer. It’s all about moderation,” Robert said.

Robert says he tries to not worry about things and stays active. He plays golf about twice a week when the weather is nice. The couple has a ritual of playing word games in the newspaper each morning, and Edith Mae likes to play cards.

The couple has several tips for a long, successful marriage.

“Patience. Understanding. Never go to bed mad,” they said.

The pair believe many young people give up in their marriage too quickly nowadays and don’t want to talk about their problems.

“A marriage is give and take,” Edith Mae said.

The Schaums will officially celebrate their 75th wedding anniversary on Dec. 26.

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