Happy Valentine’s Day!

For some, romance on this special Thursday is about a lifelong partner. It has brought many great joy. It’s also hard work and some sacrifice, according to three couples introduced in today’s Arcadian, our Champion Lovers.

Meet Bob and Paula Wald Block, Yojaida and Jorge Hernandez and Kathy and Jimmy Peters, all locals and all happily together for combined bliss of more than 125 years.

Read their stories and secrets for a lasting relationship.

Yojaida and Jorge Hernandez

, 35 years

Jorge and Yojaida work well together. Literally ... right down the hall from one another. Jorge is a DeSoto County Code Compliance director with 17 years in code enforcement. Yojaida Hernandez is a legal secretary with 15 years at DeSoto County.

Question: How did you meet? Was there an immediate attraction ... or did it simmer awhile?

Yojaida: “We met many moons ago. In 1978, I attended a school dance. I went to an all-girls Catholic school in Chicago and Jorge went to an all-boys Catholic school. The schools often had functions together like dances, sports, band recitals and other school events. Well, we both attended this dance and he took notice of me ... but I didn’t notice him until a friend pointed him out to me.

“In a short amount of time, Jorge and I became friends and so did our families, as both our fathers were businessmen in the same area. We were both 15 years old when we started dating in 1979 ... and have been together ever since. In 1982, Jorge joined the U.S. Marine Corps and left for boot camp. I was working as a teacher’s assistant and attending college. After a four-year relationship, two of those years being long distance, Jorge and I were married on April 14, 1984. Jorge was in the Marine Corps and doing well ... and I instantly became a military wife.”

Question: Bumps in the road?

Yojaida: “Oh wow, we have had our fair share. Our first son, Jorge, was born just one year after being married. Then in 1987 our daughter, Jessica, was born. At that time Jorge was deploying a lot, as most Marines do. Some deployments were as long as eight to 10 months. I still remember when Jorge deployed to the Middle East during ‘Operation Desert Storm.’ He was deployed for 10 months. When he left the children were very little, when he returned it was a joyous celebration. Jorge had so many deployments all over the world including Spain, Okinawa, Philippines, Norway and South Korea ... but we always kept the home fires burning. Jorge served 20 years in the Marines and retired in 2002. In 1994, our second son, Johnathan, was born, a preemie—2 pounds, 14 ounces. The military did a great job caring for Johnathan and he became a very strong, well-adjusted little boy.

“Now Johnathan is a Marine himself, he started boot camp in January 2018 and is serving proudly. The bumps in life have been many, but so have the joys. Like all families, we have had to endure family deaths and illnesses, and all that goes with it, but we have also had many joyous occasions, birthdays, anniversaries, graduations, and all of God’s blessings.”

Question: How are you planning to spend your Valentine’s Day?

Yojaida: “We always have so much to take care of and so much we both want to achieve in a day. As long as we know our family and animals are well, the rest is easy. Maybe a nice dinner together.”

Question: Secret to a long relationship? And any advice to young couples.

Yojaida: “The secret to a long relationship … love and compromise. If there is love, you will find the compromise. As far as advice to young couples, wow, I don’t know. After 35 years of marriage, we are still figuring it out, one day at a time. You never know what life is going to throw at you ... but with love and a positive outlook, you can almost always find compromise.”

Bob and Paula Wald Block

, 38 years

Question: How did you meet?

Paula: “Bob came back from California and I moved from South Bend, Indiana, to Miami Beach … and I needed a job. I started working for his stepmom in Miami Beach at the Oceanside Plaza, selling condos. Bob, his dad and brother were all doing the refurbishing of Miami Beach buildings going from apartments to condos.

“When all apartments were sold, the family went to the next condos. Bob then went with his family to Atlantic City to refurbish apartments to condos and sell them. I stayed in Miami ... and Bob then called me three weeks later … and he couldn’t live without me. He had me move to Atlantic City to be with him.

“He went every Friday to the mall after he got paid, and I used to be jealous, till I found out his trips on Friday ... he had my engagement ring on layaway. Got married July 27, 1980.”

Question: There was an immediate attraction ... or did it simmer awhile? And how do you know?

Paula: “I know it was pretty immediate the attraction … and my future stepmother-in-law and Bob’s father at the time were really trying to push us together. Always had butterflies in my stomach … and I dated a few people. For me it was so different of a feeling, I knew he was for me. Bob felt the same way.”

Question: Bumps in the road?

Paula: “There are always bumps in the road. Quite a few bumps, but nothing we couldn’t handle. I felt they only make you stronger. It was like the fairytale, once upon a time and happily ever after.”

Question: Secret to a long relationship?

Paula: “Move to Arcadia and live happily ever after....”

Question: And any advice to young couples?

Paula: “Something we have always done is never go to bed angry. Kiss before you go to sleep. Holding hands. If someone is leaving the other for work or a trip to the store, always kiss each other. Never having to say sorry to each other.”

Kathy and Jimmy Peters

, 51 years

Question: How did you meet? Was there an immediate attraction ... or did it simmer awhile?

Jimmy’s version: “At Kent State University in psychology class. I thought she was the prettiest girl I had ever seen. I asked her to have a Coke with me at the gas station across the street during our class break ... I was so cool.”

Kathy’s version: “I thought his name was Dave, he was the smart one in the class. I fell in love with him very fast, right after our first one-on-one conversation. For me, that was that!”

Question: Bumps in the road?

Jimmy’s version: “Of course there were bumps in the road, that’s what life is about. The key is to pick yourselves up and start over, and over, and over...”

Kathy’s version: “Oh for sure, bumps is a good word—but sometimes it can be a hole—and when it’s a hole, you grab onto faith and stretch for its light. Surprise! Surprise! One candle lights the darkest space.”

Question: Secret to a long relationship? And any advice to young couples.

Jimmy’s version: “I think the key to a long relationship is forgiving the small irritations that come up 20 times a day. When two people get married, their personalities blend together, and this change is normal, sometimes difficult, but love makes it tolerable.”

Kathy’s version: “I believe that there is a word that is ignored today—and it’s sacrifice. Sometimes it was Jimmy’s turn and sometimes mine, and sometimes we held hands and sacrificed together. My advice to young people is to hold on to love ... because it is forever and it grows and runs deep ... it is a swift flowing river.”

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