Long-Haul Sweethearts

long-haul sweethearts Gene and Ardena Snapp

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Montana Senior Olympics

By DIANNA TROYER

To celebrate Valentine’s Day, Gene and Ardena Snapp give each other the gift of time—72 years of marriage to be exact. In their 90s and long-haul sweethearts since high school, they plan to spend February 14 quietly at their home near Rupert, Idaho.

“We feel blessed and grateful to have been given this gift of 72 years together,” said Ardena, 94. “We have a strong faith in God and that gives us strength. Kindness and compassion keep you young, too.”

The Snapps agree their relationship has remained strong because they have deep respect for each other, a sense of humor, a love of God and family, and common interests. They laugh easily, recalling their courtship, family, and careers in education, family.

They began dating in high school when they got acquainted serving on student council and being members of Torch Club, an honorary society for students with high grades. Their high school romance sparked a last love, and they celebrated their 72nd wedding anniversary on September 4.  

“We’re blessed at our age to be in our own home—my childhood home built in 1907—and to be able to take care of ourselves,” Ardena said. “Our family brings us so much joy and happiness. Family means the world to us.”

Their son Steven is an optometrist in Hailey, Idaho, and visits regularly. Larry, their other son, serves as an associate pastor and counselor at a church in Aurora, Colorado. He visits several times a year. Their home is decorated with framed gifts of artwork and poems from their grandchildren: Rachel, Sheridan, and Ethan.

Perfect Setting for Longevity

The Snapps attribute their vitality to gratitude, being physically active outdoors, and pursuing their hobbies and passions. 

Gene rode horses and hunted along trails of nearby mountains. 

An avid gardener, Ardena grows flowers that bloom from spring to fall. Professional photographers use their yard as an outdoor studio for weddings, family photos, and for the Minico High School cheerleaders to have their annual group photos taken. 

“We’re happy that people enjoy its beauty as much as we do,”Ardena said. 

Their sons help keep up their impressive yard. Steve irrigates, while Larry landscapes. 

Ardena and Gene celebrate their anniversary every year by having their photo taken in their yard.

Secret to Lasting Love

Offering advice about a lasting marriage, Gene said to not rush into a relationship. He and Ardena dated five years and waited to marry until he had graduated from the Southern Idaho College of Education with a teaching degree.

“Take your time when choosing a spouse, and really get to know that person,” he said. 

After college, Gene found a job teaching at an Oregon school for five years. He then served in the Army Security Agency during the Korean War, one year of which he spent in Japan. 

Eventually the Snapps returned to their hometown of Rupert. Ardena’s father sold the farm to them, and her brother leased it. 

Gene taught junior high, served as a principal for 28 years, and was a superintendent for nine years. Ardena worked for the district as an office manager and secretary. They both worked in migrant language programs as well. 

Gene said occasional disagreements are inevitable for couples who work and raise a family.

“Talk about it, and really listen to what your spouse is saying,” he advised. 

Ardena said couples should realize it’s not a matter of always being right or wrong. 

“You compromise,” she said. “Each person gives more than 50 percent.” 

Extending Love to Community

For the Snapps, love extends beyond their home to their community. They are active in the Paul Congregational Church. Gene held leadership positions in Kiwanis Club and the Salvation Army. 

“Ardena has always helped people, too, just not as part of any organization,” Gene said. “She sees those in need and does what she can.”

Their faith keeps them energized, Ardena said.

“We feel blessed every day,” she said. “God is always good.” MSN

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