Robert Pencil has worked multiple jobs throughout his lifetime, including as a farmer, truck driver and land fill operator.
“He was gone a lot, maybe that’s part of it,” his wife, Ruth Pencil, said in reference to how their marriage has survived for so long.
Robert and Ruth — married for 73 years — were crowned the King and Queen of the Golden Wedding Party at the Clark County Fair on Tuesday. The party celebrates couples in Clark County who have been married 50 years or more.
Being married that long is “like a lifetime,” Ruth said.
She said she believes that God’s grace has helped their marriage endure through the years.
“All marriages have ups and downs, but the Lord has brought us through,” Ruth said.
The Pencils are born again Christians, Ruth said. They met in church as teens. She was 15; he was 16. Ruth was friends with Robert’s sister who introduced them.
They sat together for the first time at a wedding, Ruth said.
“That was the beginning,” she said.
The Springfield couple has two daughters: Faith Pencil and Roberta Stephens. They also have one grandson, one granddaughter, and a great-grandson.
Robert said that he and Ruth endured because they wanted to bring their children up properly.
MORE CLARK COUNTY FAIR COVERAGE
The Golden Wedding Party celebrates its 60th anniversary this year. The event is organized through the collaborative efforts of United Senior Services and the Springfield Kiwanis.
It was started in 1958 by the Kiwanis. It moved to the Champion Building at the Clark County Fair in 1964, said Becky Skiles Gorby, president of the Springfield Kiwanis.
Maureen Fagans, executive director and CEO of United Senior Services, said the Kiwanis now provides financial support and 40 to 50 volunteers for the event every year.
Volunteerism and the sponsorship of Oakwood Village, a nursing home, help make the event possible, she said.
Golden Wedding attendance on Tuesday reached 1,000, including hundreds of couples.
There are 1,800 known couples who have been married for 50 years or more in Clark County alone, Fagans said. All of those couples received invitations to this year’s Golden Wedding celebration.
The event included the crowning of the king and queen, a sing-along, and cake and ice cream.
Dean Simms Band also performed a Louie Armstrong tribute show, said Dean Blair, executive director of the Clark County Fair.
Fagans said that she admires couples like the Pencils, who have been married for more than 50 years.
“That’s a testament to perseverance and love,” she said. “Every one of them is my hero.”
Clark County residents who know a couple celebrating 50 years or more of marriage may contact United Senior Services to get on the invite list.
“Once you’re invited, you’re always invited,” Fagans said.