70 Years Strong: Concordia Couple Shares their Story for Valentine’s Day

Don and Cleo Black 2

From our family to yours, Happy Valentine’s Day! Many members of the Concordia family celebrate milestone anniversaries with us, and one couple at the Concordia at Cabot Lund Care Center just reached their 70th anniversary: Don and Cleo Black.

Don, 92, and Cleo, 90, grew up just a few miles apart from each other in Butler, PA. They both attended Butler High School, but didn’t really meet until a family member played matchmaker.

“Don’s brother and I were in the same class, and his brother decided that we ought to meet each other,” Cleo said.

Don continued the story: “I was working for the water supply company in Butler, and sometimes I would work all night at the Oneida Dam. It was a popular hangout for people our age, and Cleo and her girlfriends always loafed around the dam too. That’s where we first met.”

“He tells people he found me under a stone at the dam,” Cleo joked.

The two began dating and soon knew that they wanted to spend the rest of their lives together. Don decided to join the National Guard before graduating high school, so the pair were engaged before he left for his four years of service.

“We got married once I got back,” Don said. “We chose the day after Thanksgiving – that way I would have extra time off work at the strip mine.”

Their 1951 wedding was notable for how the weather played a part.

“We had a nice church wedding, and it just rained and rained and rained all day,” Cleo said. “As a matter of fact, it was raining so badly I had to wear little plastic boots over my satin shoes. And then it turned to snow!”After their reception, Don and Cleo had plans to drive up to Niagara Falls for their honeymoon – but they only made it as far as Grove City, PA.

“I parked in the snow when we got there, but I couldn’t really see where the street was,” Don said. “The next morning, I woke up and had a ticket! I walked to the office and found out my ticket was 50 cents, but the officer didn’t charge me after he found out we were on our honeymoon. We had a good time after that.”

The two went on to build a life together in their hometown of Butler, maintaining a service station on North Main Street for 47 years.

“When we started, gas was $0.16 a gallon,” Don said. “I would sit in that room for a half hour or 45 minutes between customers. Now it’s just a steady stream of people there – we really love that area.”

They hired mainly highschoolers to help at the station, and Don would often fix their bikes (and later their cars) for them for free. After Don and Cleo had two children of their own, they frequently had large family dinners.

“Some days I might start out cooking dinner for just the family, but we would end up with a lot more by dinnertime,” Cleo said. “The kids we hired always came over to our house to eat and do things like that with us, so it was one big happy family. In fact, I think that’s really how we spent most Valentine’s Days – just together with everyone all around us.”

After 70 great years together, Don and Cleo love looking back on all they’ve shared.

“There’s nothing I would change, because every day is a good day that the Lord has provided for us,” Cleo said. “It really doesn’t seem like many years. I feel like we got married yesterday.”

The couple have two children, 16 grandchildren (with one on the way) and some great advice for couples on Valentine’s Day and all days to have a long-lasting marriage.

Cleo’s advice is simple: “Don’t go to bed angry.”

Don added: “We always have a big kiss before we go to sleep, even now. We have a lot of good memories together.”

Many of their memories are captured in a present from their 25th anniversary – a globe of miniatures that depict their life. There’s a sign for Fort Indiantown Gap where Don trained for the National Guard, ice skates to show the pair’s love for the sport, an old school milk jug because they lived on a dairy farm, homemade mashed potato donuts and apple butter to show the family’s culinary traditions and much more.

“We’ve had a wonderful life, and I just thank the Lord every day,” Cleo said. “We’re also lucky to be here at Concordia. Back when we started having health problems and I knew we needed help, I heard about Concordia on the radio and decided to sign us up. It sounded like an ideal place, and we’re very thankful that we’re here to end on a happy note.”

After 70 years together, the Blacks’ last piece of advice for couples on Valentine’s Day is about teamwork.

“We have learned over the years that you have to work together,” Cleo said. “You can’t be pulling in two separate ways – work together and it’ll all turn out in the end.”

To all of our Concordia couples – Happy Valentine’s Day! If you or a loved one are thinking of joining the Concordia family, you can find more information about our services at our locations in Western Pennsylvania, Eastern Ohio and Tampa, Florida by visiting the Care Levels and Services page of our website. You can also call our headquarters to learn more at 724-352-1571 or message us through our online contact form.

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