Still together: Diamond anniversary for Afton couple

The Stantons celebrated their 75th wedding anniversary February 12, a milestone that fewer than 0.1 percent of married couples make.
Mary Jane Gore The Stantons celebrated their 75th wedding anniversary February 12, a milestone that fewer than 0.1 percent of married couples make. Mary Jane Gore

Valentines, imagine getting hitched this month. Then imagine celebrating your 75th wedding anniversary in February 2094.

A 75th anniversary is so rare that the U.S. Census Bureau keeps no statistics on it. Estimates are that fewer than 0.1 percent of marriages make it to 70 years or more, according to the University of Nebraska Omaha Center for Public Affairs Research.

Bill and Shirley Stanton of Afton, 94 and 93, respectively, are a rare couple indeed. Shirley Loving was born and raised in Charlottesville with her sister, Jean, who still lives here.

Bill Stanton is from Wisconsin, and the U.S. Army sent him to UVA for a meteorology class during World War II.

They married on February 12, 1944, a few months before D-Day. That same year, A Streetcar Named Desire hit the stage, and cooped chickens would be introduced in a Charlottesville courtroom during a dog’s trial (not guilty).

Shirley and Bill Stanton on their wedding day in 1944. Submitted photo

Here’s what the couple says about their 75-year bond.

How did you meet?

Bill: We met at a USO dance in Charlottesville; I cut in.

Shirley: We danced the whole time. Because I was a volunteer, I had to get permission to date Bill.

How did he propose?

Shirley: He was back in Charlottesville on furlough. After his class, we walked along to the Rotunda, and he pulled out the ring.

What is the best part of your long marriage?

Bill: It was all pretty good.

Shirley: We can’t complain.

What was the hardest or most challenging thing about being married?

Bill: (laughs quietly) Shirley, what do you think?

Shirley: We had a son die. We are very fortunate that nothing else that bad happened.

Bill: We worked hard.

Shirley: Everything we did was a challenge. We are so lucky to be in our home still, and it’s because we have a daughter and a grandson here to help us.

What is your secret to a long marriage?

Bill: Tolerance.

Shirley: Bill is very fair-minded. I can’t say I have taken advantage of it, but I have enjoyed it.