||Rosemary and Joseph Grout of Madison are pictured holding their certificate as the longest married couple in Wisconsin. With them are some of their 10 children and leaders of Worldwide Marriage Encounter in the Madison area. (Catholic Herald photo/Mary C. Uhler)
MADISON -- Their children say that Rosemary and Joseph Grout are a wonderful role model for their family and everyone they meet.
“Their faith is incredibly strong. They’re full of love and life,” said their daughter, Donna Hildebrand of Verona.
Donna saw an article in the Catholic Herald about the Longest Married Couple Project sponsored by Worldwide Marriage Encounter (WWME). “I thought they would be a perfect fit,” said Donna, who decided to nominate her parents for the award.
On March 11, the Grouts were presented with a certificate and a party complete with cake and balloons to honor them as Wisconsin’s longest married couple.
Theresa and Wilbur Faisss of Las Vegas, Nev., were honored as the longest married couple in the country. They have been married for 78 years.
The Grouts live at All Saints Retirement Center in Madison and are long-time members of Our Lady Queen of Peace Parish in Madison.
Married in 1938
Rosemary and Joe met at a dance in Denver, Colo., where they both grew up. They dated for a couple of years and were married on December 29, 1938, at St. Dominic Church in Denver when Joe was 22 and Rosemary was 19. “We wanted to start the new year as a married couple,” said Rosemary. “And we didn’t have to decorate the church!”
Now Joe is 95 and Rosemary is 92. They look much younger. “People are living longer and living better,” noted Rosemary.
Perhaps it is their obvious love for each other and their faith which have contributed to their long marriage, too.
As they talk, they hold hands and often finish each other’s sentences as they discuss their life together for the past 73 years.
“We lived in Denver until 1964, then we moved to Milwaukee and then to Madison,” said Rosemary.
Joe decided to volunteer for the Air Force during World War II. He served as a navigator for two and a half years. He thought it was important to serve his country, even though the couple had three little boys at the time.
Family of 10 children
They have 10 children, 16 grandchildren, and seven great-grandchildren. Their family is spread out over the country from the west coast to the east coast and in many states inbetween.
Three children live in the Madison area. Besides Donna, who explained that she is child number eight, Mary Horwitz (child number seven) lives in Middleton and Bill Grout (child number 10) lives in Madison.
Mary said her parents “are a shining example for everyone.”
“I’m very proud of them and the example they’ve set in terms of their dedication to each other,” said Bill. He noted that his mother had a stroke last year. “My dad stayed at her bedside holding her hand for two days. That’s quite a feat!”
The Grouts say it’s important in a marriage “to look out for the other person,” said Rosemary, “instead of yourself,” added Joe.
They both enjoyed singing in the Madison Diocesan Choir for 15 years. “That was a wonderful experience,” said Rosemary.
They’ve lived at All Saints for about a year and “like it very much.”
In a brief ceremony honoring the Grouts, area leaders of WWME Gie and Bruce Best of Fitchburg read the citation honoring them, which was entered into the congressional record.
The citation noted that couples in good marriages live longer and lead happier lives. It said that over 10,000 couples participate in Marriage Encounter weekends in the United States each year. WWME also has a presence in over 90 other countries.
The Grouts themselves made a Marriage Encounter weekend and were involved in the Christian Family Movement in the past.
WWME has offered weekend experiences for over 42 years. The weekends give married couples an opportunity to spend time together to focus on each other.