Bio I am a South Asian photojournalist and picture editor based in the American Midwest. I am interested in telling stories that show hope amidst adversity, focusing on the themes of race, social inequity, and the environment. I am pursuing an MA...
Bettie laughs as Charlie recalls their wedding day as they look at an old photo album. "There were only five people at our wedding," he said. Although their wedding ceremony was intimate, they later had a huge wedding reception.
27,000 days of love
"I don’t cook. I don’t clean. I am not like my mother.” This was Bettie’s reply to Charlie’s marriage proposal in 1946. Charlie Koelling and Bettie Chester grew up together in New Franklin, and Charlie was smitten with Bettie at a young age. “From afar, I admired her,” he says.
Charlie served in the Navy during World War II, and when he returned in April 1946, Bettie was engaged to his once best friend. “He was not my best friend,” Charlie said. “Well, not now,” Bettie says with a smile. Four months later, they married in an intimate five-person ceremony on Aug. 5, 1946.
It has been 75 years since Bettie said yes to Charlie’s proposal — 75 years full of love, family and memories. They have two children, four grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.
Even at age 95, their spirits remain young. They have spent over 27,000 days of their lives facing challenges together and cherishing each other’s dreams and aspirations.
Bettie clasps Charlie's hand during a conversation at their apartment in Lenoir Wood Senior Living Community. "We've had a wonderful life together," She said. "We didn't have big expensive stuff, but we had a lot of fun."
Hannah watches her mother, Carrie Weaver, embrace grandmother Bettie on her 94 birthday. Hannah enjoys playing cards with her 'pappa' Charlie. "We love to hang out with them (great-grandparents)," Hannah said.
Charlie congratulates the Mizzou woman's basketball team after an exciting game against SIUE. Although the couple is 94 years old, they do not let their age limit their thrill for life. The couple engages in various social activities outside their retirement home and regularly drive to visit their kids.
Bettie and Charlie exercise at the gym at their residence in Lenoir Wood. They usually do a lot of activities together. When they were younger, they had a family tradition of making chocolate fudge for Christmas. The tradition is now kept alive by their daughter Karen Weaver.
Charlie performs his weekly ritual of refilling Bettie's medicine box. The couple expresses their love by fulfilling each other's needs and caring for each other. Years ago, Bettie decided to work and financially support their family so that Charlie could pursue his Ph.D. "People were surprised and questioned my decision," Bettie said.
"It might not look like it, but we are having a lot of fun," Charlie Koelling said while holding Bettie's hand. Bettie and Charlie got married at the ages of 18 and 19. Charlie said that the secret to happy married life is “Yes, dear!”