“All marriages have ups and downs, but the Lord has brought us through,” Ruth said.
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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.
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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.
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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.
Happening today at the Clark County Fair
Abe Lincoln- Midway 2 to 8 p.m.
Junior Fair Sales Trailer Open: 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. and 4-7 p.m.
9 a.m.: Junior Fair Sales Trailer Open: 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. and 4-7 p.m.
11 a.m.-noon: Master Gardner Kids Cut Flower Arranging Contest (Flower Dept.-Arts & Crafts Building)
11 a.m. – 1 p.m.: Kids Crafts Make and Take (Arts & Crafts Building)
Noon: Junior Fair Walk/Trot Contesting Horse Show (Outdoor Arena)
9 a.m.: Junior Fair Market Goat Show (Cattle Show Arena)
1 p.m.: Kid’s Day Games & Contests (Grandstand). Presented by: The Exchange Club
1-5 Junior Fair Dog Agility Demos (Dog Barn)
1-5 p.m. Junior Fair Contesting Fun Horse Show (Outdoor Arena)
3 p.m.: Dean Simms Jazz Band (Entertainment Tent)
5 p.m.: Presentation Creative Achievement Award (Arts& Crafts Bldg. Stage)
6 p.m.: Junior Fair Beef Show (Expo Center)
6 p.m.: Optimist Dinner (Expo Center)
6 p.m.: Junior Fair Dog Costume, Silly Pet Tricks & Doggy Maze (Dog Barn)
7 p.m.: 2nd Annual Salvation Army 5K Run/Walk. Small registration fee supports Salvation Army programs
7 p.m.: Junior Fair Dog Fun Show (Dog Barn)
Mac Barrels (Outdoor Horse Arena)
Skid Steer Rodeo by Apple Farm Services (Grandstand area)
7 p.m. FUSE @ the Fair First Christian Church teen meeting at the Shelter House at the Lake
8 p.m. Hasting & Co. (Entertainment Tent)