Sidney and Mary Ruth Wood of Madison, both 93, could teach a lesson to Washington and state political leaders who are mired in partisan, party-line fights: Just learn to get along.
The couple, who have lived on the same lot in Madison since 1944, are political opposites — he is a Democrat and she is a Republican. They have voted straight-line party tickets since they were first able to vote in 1942.
And the politics have been the source of more than a few disagreements, says their middle son, Richard, 68.
“There have been some arguments,” said Richard, grinning and pointing across the room to both parents.
A smiling Mary Ruth said: “I’ve tried to get him to change all these years.”
And Sidney says the disagreements have never been serious and “we don’t stay mad” at each other.
They have been married 75 years, as of April 4. During a recent conversation, they spent nearly an hour smiling and poking fun at each other, something Richard says they have done all his life. They have three children, eight grandchildren and 14 great-grandchildren.
When asked what attracted one to the other, Sidney quickly said of Mary Ruth: “She was the best-looking girl in the school.”
Retorted a smiling Mary Ruth: “I’m trying to think what it would be,” which produced a broad smile from each.
On Sunday, the community turned out to celebrate their remarkable 75th wedding anniversary.
The Woods were married in 1942, shortly after Mary Ruth graduated for Madison High School, where Sidney had graduated the previous year, and they moved to Mexico where Sidney had a job. They moved back to Madison near the end of World War II, where they have lived their lives, raised their children and participated in the community.
Sidney worked until 1971 for an auto shop and he herded Angus cattle, while Mary Ruth was a homemaker, and later worked in the Madison Public Library. In 1971, he went to work for the Missouri Department of Agriculture, retiring in 1991.
“He is just so patient with me and he was a wonderful father to our children. He could not have been a better daddy,” said Mary Ruth.
Sidney smiled, and said that there was not a lot of money, getting a response from Richard, “There’s a lot more than money.”
Two weeks ago, Sidney suffered a heart attack and had two stents placed in the arteries of his heart, bringing his total to three. He had been feeling poorly for a couple of days and finally went to the doctor.
“I thought I just had indigestion,” Sidney said. “But the doc told me I had a heart attack.”
But he is not back home, and although has limited mobility and moves with assistance of a walker, Sidney says he feels great, though still a bit tired from the heart attack.
They have attended the Madison Christian Church for more nearly 70 years, where Mary Ruth has been very active. She attributes their success life to her faith.
“The Lord has blessed us so much,” she said.
Sidney is grateful that his family has remained close. His favorite times of the year are Thanksgiving and Christmas, when the house is filled with more than 30 people.
These days, Sidney and Mary Ruth enjoy watching old shows on television, and St. Louis Cardinals baseball. They are huge fans, watching nearly every game. They are also big fans of the University of Missouri Tigers.
And the secret of staying in love for 75 years?
“Oh, I don’t know..I can’t answer that,” said Mary Ruth, then adding, “I can tell you this, I don’t know what I would do without him.”