Sometimes you just know you’re in the presence of happiness. When you are around Lois and Calvin “CC” Kurtz you can’t help but feel it. As of last Saturday, the duo has been married for 75 years, and their easy banter and big smiles show they haven’t lost that loving feeling even after three-quarters of a century.
“It doesn’t seem like it’s been very long at all,” said CC Kurtz, 94. “We never had any idea we would possibly be married this many years.”
Lois Gauntz, 93, was born in Meyersville, Penn., the baby of five kids. CC Kurtz was from Hartville, Ohio, one of seven children.
“She had to marry a man with a name that ended in ‘z’,” CC joked.
They are both the last of their family still alive.
Lois’s older brother William was a minister at seminary in Chicago. One day she went to see him, staying with him and his wife.
“That’s how I found her because I was there,” CC said.
Lois was 18 and CC was 19.
Mahalia Jackson, a famous African-American gospel singer, was playing one night at the seminary.
“I was living with my brother at that time— he and his wife—and I was introduced to other couples that were married. CC’s older brother was also there (with his wife),” Lois said.
“He was five years older than I and we looked so much alike people thought we were twins,” CC said.
“I come sneaking into this meeting and it was just about to start. There was a vacant seat and I just popped in—I knew his brother so I knew I could talk to him,” she said.
“I told the single fellows I’m going to have a date with that new girl tonight so keep this seat open, and she come and sat down there and started talking—my goodness scared me to death. Here she thought she was talking to my brother who’d she’d met already,” CC said.
“That’s how I met him,” Lois laughed.
When he finished seminary he traveled to her home and from there they traveled by train to Cumberland, Md., where they were married by Pastor Rawlins—CC still remembers his name.
They have four children: CC Kurtz Jr., who lives in Galax; Louise Schwarting, who lives next door to her parents; Donna Layton, who lives nearby; and Athena Taylor, who lives in Gordonsville. They have seven grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren, when you include the wife of one—which they do—from 22 to 7 years old.
“When we first were married, we had no idea we would have such a wonderful family,” CC said.
Almost the entire family was on hand for their 75th anniversary celebration last week, including all four children, all seven grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.
“When we talk about our wrinkles, yes they’re bad, but we earned every one of them,” CC laughed.
While he was a pastor at other churches— in Ohio, North Carolina and Virginia—he has spent the majority of his time here in Greene.
The Kurtzes have lived on Evergreen Church Road in Stanardsville since moving to Greene in 1960, when he became the pastor of Evergreen Church of the Brethren and Shiloh Church of the Brethren off Middle River Road. He was pastor of both churches for 25 years.
Lois worked at Sperry Marine for 25 years, and CC did other odd jobs to make ends meet, he said.
CC served for two terms on the Greene County Board of Supervisors under administrator Julius Morris and was on the board when the courthouse exploded.
“That was scary,” he said.
“We’ve seen a lot of changes,” Lois said. “A lot of people are gone. We tease people all the time that those who went to heaven think we went to hell because we’re not there yet.”
“Now we stay around to see what’s going to happen next,” he joked.
Hanging on the wall of their living room is a painting by local artist Nancy Morris of Evergreen Church of the Brethren.
CC has performed many marriage services—and still does them today—and has married more than 500 Greene County residents alone.
“I always told them I’d tie a square knot and hope they couldn’t get it unlocked,” CC said. “Evidentially hasn’t worked in many cases.” “Sometimes they think they love each other, but infatuation sometimes enters in,” she said.
CC said when he hears people say they’ve been married for years and have never had a fight he doesn’t believe them.
“All married couples have differences. We had many differences, but we always patched them up,” he said.
The pair has always had a belief not to go to bed without making up.
“Sometimes you have to stay up a little late,” Lois laughed.
“You choose your mate until death do you part and all of these little arguments have to be ironed out and forgive one another again and again and again,” CC said.
“You have to have the determination and patience is a virtue. You have to acquire patience,” she said. “As you get older you have plenty of memories and you forget all the ill wills.”
“A long marriage is for two people who know how to forgive,” CC added.
Their daughter, Louise, learned about love from watching her parents.
“I learned that love is looking for the best in a person and learning to accept them as they are. Communication, the ability to compromise and steadfast loyalty with our own mates has come from their example,” she said.
Lois wears a necklace with a shoe charm every day.
“Her motto was always take it one step at a time,” CC explained.
“That’s why I wear the shoe … one step at a time toward the future,” Lois noted.
The pair enjoys every day as much as they can.
“We made it for 75 years together; we don’t know how much longer the Lord will provide,” CC said.
“But we still go to the grocery store and get green bananas,” Lois laughed.