February is the month when thoughts turn to love and romance.
Many couples in Summerland have been together for more than 50 years. One such couple is Frank and Marge Kuroda, who have been married for 63 years.
Their love story started here, as they were both born and raised in Summerland. They had known each other all of their lives, but it was their interest in sports that brought them together.
“He played baseball and I played softball,” explained Marge. “We both bowled and liked to go skating at Charlie Wharton’s rink.”
After dating for a number of years they married in 1951 at the United Church. Marge designed and sewed her own wedding dress and the dresses that her three bridesmaids wore. They had a fairly big wedding with many friends and the Japanese community all attending. The couple honeymooned in Seattle.
With the help of relatives and friends, their first home was built on Hespeler Road, in 1953. A daughter was born in 1954 and a son in 1956.
Frank was an orchardist and foreman for Milne Cannery Orchards, where he worked until he retired in 1988. Marge helped in the orchards for many years and then took a job as a typesetter for the Summerland Bulletin. She spent 23 years working in an insurance office here in town until she retired in 1989.
“The time goes by so quickly,” said Marge. “Both of us worked hard most of our lives and you don’t know how quickly the time is going.”
The Kurodas did find time to travel together during their years of marriage, including trips to Disneyland, San Francisco, Hawaii, Japan and an Alaskan Cruise for their 50th wedding anniversary.
They also enjoyed golfing and went on many golf trips with their friends.
“Retirement for Frank was golfing, curling, fishing, gardening and making wine,”said Marge. “I was busy going to aerobics and going for walks, knitting, gardening and volunteering.”
The Kuroda’s only grandchild was born in 2001 and is the “light of their lives”right now.
Their story has also had its sad and difficult times.
“All seemed to be going well until I had surgery for cancer in 2009 and our daughter was diagnosed with terminal cancer in 2010,” explained Marge. “She passed away and our world seemed to fall apart.”
Frank was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and the couple had to leave their home and move into the Summerland Seniors Village, two years later. Frank is now in the care unit. Marge is living independently and visits him each day along with their little dog Sophie.
Marge is trying to accept the situation, but it is not easy for her.
“I never thought it would end up this way,” she said. “These are things that happen in life that you don’t expect and you don’t plan on. I thought in the golden years we could take off and do whatever we wanted, whenever we wanted, but things haven’t worked out that way.”
Her advice to younger folks is “Don’t wait! Do what you want to do if you at all can.”
Still, the Kurodas have had a long and mostly happy life together. Marge believes the key to a successful marriage is to think about the other person and not only about oneself and to accept each other’s differences.
She also attributes their 63 years of marriage to the way she and Frank were raised. They were brought up with the thought that they would stick by each other and do whatever they could to keep the marriage going.
“It wasn’t all a bed of roses,” Marge said, “but you manage to get by and to do your best.”