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Two local couples that have stood the test of time share their secrets to success

By Paula Walter
Valentine’s Day has long been set aside as a day to acknowledge loved ones. In recognition of this day, The Tomahawk sought out two couples that have been together for many years to discover their secrets and wisdom for a successful and loving marriage.
Buddy and Jean Zuercher have been married for 54 years and have called Mountain City home since 1989 when Buddy became the pastor of First Christian Church. Originally from Orville, Ohio, Buddy met Jean, who was from Minburn, Iowa, while they were both attending Bible college in Minnesota. “We met in the fall of 1959,” said Buddy. “We were married May 27th, 1960.” Buddy was 24 and Jean 18 at the time of their marriage. “We were struggling college kids,” Jean said. The couple moved to Buddy’s parents home in Ohio for a while after graduation. “ I got my first church and I’ve been gone ever since,” relayed Buddy.
Buddy remembered the first time he realized Jean was the one for him. “It just hit me,” he said, with a smile that played across his face and lit up his eyes. “The first thing I ever got her was an ice cream cone.”
The basis for their strong marriage is their relationship with God. “We put God first and then love for each and then a total commitment. That will sustain you when love couldn’t,” said Jean. “If you remember the commitment when something comes along, you’re going to stay together. You need lots of patience and understanding. You’ve got to roll with the punches. There are a lot of things that come your way that you don’t know how to handle.“
Buddy offered advice gleaned from years of experience. “You have to want the marriage to survive,” he added. “There are time she could have walked because of problems I created, and then I’d go to pieces. The biblical concept of a helpmate is vital.”
Jean put advice from her father into her relationship with her family. “I always go back to thinking about what my father said; you made your bed, now lay in it,” Jean shared. “It goes back to communication. You stay and work it out.”
The couple has three children, Deanna, Darrell and Cindy, along with three grandchildren.
Norman and Barbara Reece will be married 58 years on March 13th. Both Johnson County natives, a career in the northern Virginia area kept them away for 42 years until they returned once again to their mountains. “We met in a bean field,” explained Norman. “My father was a commercial bean grower. Of course, they had to hire green bean pickers. Barbara jumped off the back of a pickup truck and I saw her and Cupid took over. My brother and I saw her at the same time. We kind of had a dispute. I told him he was too old for her.”
For the rest of the story, pick up a copy of this week's Tomahawk.