2016-02-14 / Insight

‘Love is something that finds you’

Three senior couples share Valentine stories
BY PHIL FOLEY
810-452-2616 • pfoley@mihomepaper.com


Barbara and Russell Beck Sr. have been married nearly 49 years. They met in Detroit when they were members of two different singing groups. 
Photos by Phil Foley Barbara and Russell Beck Sr. have been married nearly 49 years. They met in Detroit when they were members of two different singing groups. Photos by Phil Foley LAPEER — “Love isn’t something you find,” Lorette Young suggested. “Love is something that finds you.”

Love is something that found Rod and Bonnie Kavalunas in a New Haven bank more than 50 years ago. At 49 years the Lapeer Township couple was the longest married at the Lapeer Senior Center’s Valentine’s Day lunch Friday.

Bonnie said they first met when she was in the eighth grade and he was a junior at New Haven High School in Macomb County. They went on one date see “Whatever Happened to Baby Jane” before he went off to join the Army and spent four years in the military police at Fort Ritchie, MD.,

Bonnie’s parents moved off to Utica her junior year, but in 1965 she was visiting an old friend who told her Rod was back from the Army and working at the New Haven Bank. “I was dating another Bonnie at the time,” Rod recalled.


Bonnie and Rod Kavalunas have been married 49 years. She’s active in the Valley Area Agency on Aging and is a board member Lapeer County Senior Program Board. He’s an Army veteran. Bonnie and Rod Kavalunas have been married 49 years. She’s active in the Valley Area Agency on Aging and is a board member Lapeer County Senior Program Board. He’s an Army veteran. Two years later they were Mr. and Mrs. Kavalunas. They had two children, Todd and Jodie, and one now lives across the street and the other down the street. “The apple of my eye,” Bonnie said, “is my grandson, Clay Smith.”

She noted Rod has had triple bypass surgery and she’s survived two bouts of cancer. “We are always there for each other,” she said.

Rod said they take turns letting the other be the boss. But he added, “Women are usually a little smarter than men.”


A chance meeting at a Lapeer restaurant led to romance and marriage for Betty and Al Hart, who’ve been married three years. A chance meeting at a Lapeer restaurant led to romance and marriage for Betty and Al Hart, who’ve been married three years. “Oh, don’t say that,” Bonnie said, giving him a little push. They both smiled.

While Russell and Barbara Beck Sr., are a little older — he’s 88 and she’s 83 — they’ve been married six months less than the Kavalunas.

Russell said his bride was a “nickle immigrant,” explaining that Barbara’s from Windsor and in those days it cost five-cents to take the bus over the bridge or through the tunnel to Detroit.

Barbara said they met because they were both in amateur singing groups. She said, “We grew on each other.”

While Barbara remembered her grandmother came from England on a ship in 1905, neither could remember where or how he proposed. “Getting old does that to you,” she sighed.

Where Russell is quick with a joke,

Barbara seems more serious. He said when he got ready to retire as a Ford tool and die maker, she decided she wanted five or 10 acres in the country where they could raise some fruit trees and have a garden.

“I had all the negatives worked out,” he said, recalling he was to insist on a property water on one side and a golf course on the other and how he was going to frighten her with the prospect of the road washing out.

Barbara found a piece of land on Pratt Road in Hadley, across the street from the golf course with a stream running nearby. They’ve been there ever since.

They both said they wouldn’t change a thing.

“How are those cabbage rolls,” led to a second marriage for Lapeer’s Al and Betty Hart. He’d been widower for six years after being married for 56 and after 42 years of marriage, she’d been divorced for 15.

They met at lunch at Brian’s Restaurant when Al decided to sit at a table instead of his usual booth and Betty walked in with three friends.

“We hadn’t been together three months when he asked me to spend the rest of my life with him,” Betty said smiling.

“We started talking and the next thing you know we were good friends,” Al said.

They met in September, got engaged in December and they’ve been married three years.

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