Wedding Service

Sun City Center couple look back on 80 years of marriage

Both just a few years away from their 100th birthday, David and Gretchen Meixner are celebrating a milestone anniversary that few ever reach.

The images reflect decades of fond memories, but there are no wedding photos. The couple fled on January 18, 1942.

Now living in Hillsborough County, Gretchen, now 98, and David, 97, met in high school in Pennsylvania. As David entered the service, they decided to marry in Virginia.

“Our families didn’t know we were doing that particular weekend, so we didn’t take any pictures. They didn’t find out until some time later,” Gretchen said.

“I was all 17, almost 18 and Gretchen was 18,” David recalled.

Gretchen said that due to their age, their marriage certificate shows they were both 21, which voids the certificate.

“My kids today are laughing because we’re both 21 on certification, so we’re not married yet,” Gretchen said.

David pointed out that after 12 years together, their marriage is considered common-law.

“Oh, we’re kinda kidding about that,” Gretchen said.

Over the years, they raised a family of six children, but their passion for each other never wavered. Like any couple, they’ve been through the ups and downs and they still remember the spark.

“We grew up together. I built a house and she built a house,” David said. “I think it’s the commitment to each other. The commitment to family has worked for us.”

“He was handsome. He was very handsome. In fact, he still is,” Gretchen said, adding, “I wish I could see him.”

Her sight and hearing have declined over the years, but she and her husband are still doing what they can to help others.

“Right now, because I can’t see and can’t hear, I’m knitting prayer shawls for my daughter’s church,” Gretchen said. “When you get married you either succeed or you don’t and it’s strictly between two people and so far. We’ve been very lucky.”

And they say they are forever grateful.

“Every day when my feet hit the ground, I say, ‘Thanks for another day,'” Gretchen said. “It’s been a good run and if it rolls to 81, that’s good. If it doesn’t, that’s good too.”