Vira Paschal’s eyes brightened when she spotted her husband, Irving, sitting in a wheelchair across the dining hall. Aided by a walker, she moved with quickness to take a seat by his side.
Excitement and love draws her to him, family members say – even after 70 years.
“She’s always like that when she sees him,” Vira Lee Bryant-Salton said. She smiled when her parents embraced. “They are committed to each other.”
Amid family and friends gathered at a south Wichita church on Saturday, Irving and Vira Paschal of Bel Aire celebrated a marital milestone: 70 years of calling each other husband and wife.
They wed Jan. 9, 1944, in Sand Springs, Okla., not long after Irving, then 21, first saw 17-year-old Vira at the boardinghouse where she worked.
People there thought he was coming for breakfast, said Sue Jones, one of the Paschals’ daughters.
Really, though, he longed to see the girl he would make his bride. One day he told her “you are going to be my wife,” Jones said.
As newlyweds, the Paschals had $100 and owned two white chairs and a white wash pan decorated with red trim. Eventually, 15 children and a house in Wichita came.
Now there are 33 grandchildren, 48 great-grandchildren and six great-great-grandchildren.
Jones suspects laughter, strength and devotion helped keep her parents together for so long. She remembered how her father, a now-retired Sears Robuck and Co. employee, would bring tokens of affection to his wife, a homemaker, at the end of his workday.
“Little candy peanut butter cups from Sears,” Jones said. “Four or five in a little candy bag. (It’s) something he’d always greet her with.”
Faith in God, too, served as a foundation for the couple’s long marriage.
“They go by the Scriptures, and they are both committed to each other,” Bryant-Salton said. “Their faith in God was the glue that held them together.”
Vira Paschal herself says the success is a matter of “give and take.”
“You settle your problems between husband and wife,” she said, her husband by her side. “That helped us stay together.”
Now 91, Irving Paschal lives at Catholic Care Center in Wichita, away from his wife. Vira, 88, visits for a meal each Tuesday.
A few weeks ago, Irving turned to her during one of their meetings, Jones said.
I will always remember you, he told his wife.
I will always remember you, too, she replied.
“When I look at my mom and dad ... I can see there is a solid union between the both of them,” Jones said. “They are inseparable.”