Love is not just for the young who have stars in their eyes and romance on their minds. Young love knows only the surface of the deep well of love. True love grows through years of devotion, tribulation, sacrifice and laughter. True love arrives when you least expect it and promises surprises at every turn. This story is about four couples who experienced love in a time of war, great separation and sacrifice, through exciting careers and decades of public service. Their marriages are forged through years of respect and devotion and serve as examples of how rich life can be when shared with someone you love.

LOVE IN WAR

Dorothy E. Hopkins was the new girl in her Delmar, N.Y., high school. She met her future husband at a church youth group, where she hoped to meet some other young people her age. She entered the meeting room and saw the minister’s son standing with another young man, Malcolm T. Hopkins. Introductions were made and the evening ended. But friendship began and changed into something stronger, until the two became engaged in college and eventually married in August 1949.
But instead of the happily-ever-after every couple wants, the Cold War intervened. Malcolm was finishing law school and had just taken his bar exams when his draft number came up. Dorothy stayed with her parents, keeping her full-time job in New York while Malcolm went to Fort Bragg followed by Fort Halliburton with the 11th Airborne for boot camp. As Malcolm was preparing to ship out, he received orders to attend an intelligence school that was the precursor of the CIA. While training as a special agent in Army Counterintelligence, he was billeted on base. Although Dorothy was living with her parents, they made it a point to spend time together. When Malcolm was sent to Germany, Dorothy made the long trip to visit him. Ultimately, his service during the Cold War separated them for two years. “Dorothy will tell you that you only get something if you work for it,” Malcolm says. “I am what I am because Dorothy has been 100-percent supportive of me. She has guts and grit. I had this wonderful woman behind me, so I knew everything would work out.” Honorably discharged, he separated from the Army and began a corporate career, only to contract hepatitis. “At that time, there was no treatment for the disease and no cure,” Malcolm says. “We had two small children, and things were grim. My company kept me on its payroll and Dorothy kept me alive. I recovered because Dorothy nursed me,” Malcolm continues. “She gave me love and grit!” “And Malcolm had a huge career after he recovered,” Dorothy says. “I’m so proud of him.

He served as chief financial officer (CFO) for Eastern Airlines, and later for TWA. Then he went on to International Bank of Commerce of New York and ultimately capped his career serving as vice chairman and CFO of St. Regis Paper Company.” Malcolm’s career was demanding and required a good deal of travel. During separations, Dorothy helped her mother research the family genealogy. Her research skills escalated to a point where she is now a renowned genealogist. Malcolm retired from St. Regis, and the couple moved to Asheville, N.C., building their dream home. Malcolm continued serving on many boards of directors including Columbia Energy Corporation, MAPCO and US Home Corp, requiring more absences from Dorothy. Absence made their hearts grow fonder, and their love became deeper, the bonds stronger. Then Dorothy became ill, developing a benign tumor at the base of her brain stem. It was a hard decision, but the couple sold their home in Asheville and moved to San Antonio to be closer to one of their two daughters. More health problems followed, and Malcolm has nursed her through each illness. “Fair is fair,” he says. “She took care of me through hepatitis.

This is the least I can do.” Sixty-four years of marriage, spanning the Cold War, illness, children, careers and moves, provide a lot of lessons in life and love. The secret to a long and happy marriage? “Dorothy and I say being quiet, silent and strong is the secret,” Malcolm says. “That’s right,” Dorothy agrees. “Keep quiet and do what you say you’ll do.” “Never ever give up, either,” Malcolm adds. “Once you are married, your wife is yours forever. Circle the wagons and never give up on your love, on your family. Love each other and be glad to be together.” “I love Malcolm unconditionally,” Dorothy says. “When we became engaged, I asked myself, ‘Do I really love this person and want to care for him always? Will we stay together forever?’ And my answer was yes.” Malcolm smiles at Dorothy and says, “What is the single most important thing I’ve learned in 64 years of marriage? Find out what she wants and give it to her!”

A BROAD AND RICH LIFE

Charles and Margie Kilpatrick were attending Stephen F. Austin State College when they met in 1942. Charles was beginning his senior year, and Margie was a freshman. “We met at the beginning of the school year at a campus refreshment stand,” Margie recalls. “A friend came by my room and told me there was a beautiful redheaded woman down at this refreshment stand,” Charles says. “We went down to introduce ourselves. My friend went for the redhead; thanks goodness Margie was the brunette!” “I didn’t tell him how old I was,” Margie says. “I don’t think he’d have gone out with me if he’d known I was so young.” With the age difference, what drew them together? “He was very friendly, intelligent and had a good sense of humor. On our second date, we went bowling! I’d never done that. Who goes bowling on a second date in East Texas? He was definitely more interesting than other boys I’d dated.” Margie became a World War II bride. “When Charles graduated and left for war, we had no intention of getting married,” Margie says. “I was focused on graduating. Then in my senior year, Charles asked me to marry him.” He was based at Camp Lejeune, the Marine Corps base in North Carolina. Margie left Texas to join him. They had a simple wedding, with nine people in attendance. Several months later, Charles left on bivouac. Margie went to Washington, D.C., to stay with Charles’ brother while the couple waited on his orders. He was assigned to Camp Pendleton before heading for duty in the Pacific arena.

Margie left Washington, returning to Nacogdoches to arrange for leave from college. She discovered that Charles had several weeks free before shipping out, so she made the trip to Camp Pendleton, unannounced, to surprise him. “What she didn’t know was that there was no housing to be had,” Charles says. “When she wired me in transit to say she was on her way, I didn’t know what to do. I overheard a guy say he’d heard of a place that might be open, so I hustled over to see if I could rent the apartment. I got lucky and leased the place. Otherwise, I don’t know what we’d have done.” After two weeks of renewing their married life, Charles shipped out. Margie became a Spanish teacher at a small school outside of Nacogdoches. The pair managed wartime separation like many couples, with letters and longing. “Finally, Charles came home,” Margie says. “I was able to finish my degree and teach again while he worked at a daily paper. That’s where his journalism career got started.” Charles had an illustrious career, finishing as editor and publisher of the San Antonio Express-News, where Margie supported his work. “Charles’ work gave us an advantage most couples don’t have,”

Margie says. “His work required us to do lots of social things, so we did lots of unusual things together. Dinners at the White House, political events and meetings — it was fun and a good learning experience.” Along the way, he and Margie raised three children, worked in their community and traveled extensively in Mexico. During this time, Margie perfected her Spanish skills and decided to tackle the French language. “Charles observed how much I wanted to learn French and suggested we take a trip to Paris for our 30th wedding anniversary,” Margie says. “We rented an apartment and enjoyed it so much that in 1980 we arranged a lease on an apartment with four other couples. We lived there for several months each year, and our daughter is using it now.” Throughout their 68-year marriage, the pair have lived frugally. “We’ve lived a simple life, always within our means,” Margie says. “We’ve never been in debt. We believe that stuff doesn’t make for happy living. I think money problems can cause serious problems in a marriage. “When you don’t have money pressures, you can share interests as a couple and as a family,” she continues. “Anything that brings new interest into the marriage helps. Also, a really loving situation must be nurtured. You have to keep romance in your marriage alive; don’t leave it to chance.” “Our life is a love story that keeps us going,” Charles says. “We’ve had a broad and rich life, and we’ve been lucky to share it for so long.”

LOVE LOST AND FOUND

Betsy and Tom O’Connell met on a train traveling from Frankfurt to Paris. She was returning home from a visit to military doctors, and he was on Army furlough. Tom rescued her from the train’s malfunctioning water fountain. In turn, Betsy took him to meet her mother, who was traveling with her. The three struck up a conversation, and Betsy’s mother invited him to visit at their apartment. He had no idea Betsy was 14 and in the ninth grade. Tom was 20. Betsy toured Tom through Paris, chaperoned by her parents. They enjoyed their week together, and he returned to Frankfurt, still ignorant of her age. After his discharge from the Army, he returned stateside to attend the University of Vermont. They corresponded for two years. She visited her grandmother in New Jersey, and he’d drive to see her. After several visits, he discovered her true age, but they remained friends. However, over time, they lost touch. Tom married a girl he met in college; Betsy moved to Texas and married. Through contacts, Betsy knew Tom and his wife were living in Washington, D.C., where Tom was working for the Washington Post. In 1960, Betsy visited her parents, who were living in the same city, and was able to see Tom and meet his wife and their baby. Betsy wrote her married name on the back of Tom’s business card, along with her address and phone number. She told Tom to call her if he was ever in San Antonio. It was 20 years before he made that call. By then, both were divorced, and Tom was living in Dallas, working at a temporary advertising sales job.

He was combing through a box of old business cards, identifying potential contacts, when he came across the one with Betsy’s information on it. “Tom calls me from Dallas and says, ‘This is a voice from the past,’” Betsy recalls. “My response was, ‘Where are you?’” They arranged a dinner meeting for several weeks later, when Betsy would be in Dallas at market for her gift shop. When she arrived at her La Quinta hotel room, she discovered a huge bouquet of roses awaiting her. “Tom knew how to make an impression,” Betsy says. She watched for him from her window. When she saw a handsome man with a marvelous physique, all she could think was “Oh, my God!” They married three years later. Tom moved to San Antonio, where he worked in advertising sales, first for the San Antonio Light and then the San Antonio Express-News. After an 18-year career, he retired in 2001. While Tom was selling advertising, Betsy was building a thriving retail career with Violet Talk, her gift store in Alamo Heights. They bought acreage in Bulverde in 1985 and built Deerbrook Farm in 1988. The farm was their dream, something they worked on together. They raised llamas and chickens, planted more than 150 antique roses and established delightful gardens on the property.

They traveled to Europe many times, revisiting Paris haunts. They journeyed to Australia and Hawaii and saw much of the United States. Betsy eventually sold Violet Talk — just in time, as it turns out. Tom became seriously ill and nearly died. Betsy recalls standing over his hospital bed, firmly telling him he could not die because she was not through being married to him yet. She nursed him for nearly a year. His recovery is slow, but his sense of humor and love for her are stronger than ever. “I fell in love with Betsy the first time I saw her,” Tom says. “I’ve stayed in love with her because her upbeat ways and humor make her such a joy to be around. We love to do the same things — read, travel, garden, care for our animals, meet with friends — and even go-skinny dipping! “I miss her so much — even if she’s out of my sight for a day or a week,” he adds. “If she’s gone for a week, it’s absolutely unbearable.” Finally he adds, “How could you not love someone forever if she always puts you before herself at all times? That’s my Betsy.” Betsy watches Tom fondly as she speaks: “I can tell you that one of the best things about being married to Tom is aging together … gracefully, we hope.

We’re together and having fun, in spite of our ‘ows’ and ‘ouches.’ “I have several recommendations for a great marriage. The first is to always appreciate the little things your spouse does. Tom waits for me at our farm gate every evening to open it for me so I don’t have to get out of the car twice. “Next, always have fun together. We’ve always planned small events every week, like picnics on our property, or big events like the final crossing of the Queen Elizabeth II. “Always show interest in your partner’s activities,” she continues. “Each day Tom can’t wait to hear the tales about my work. And always surprise your mate!
Thanks to the sale of Beanie Babies at Violet Talk, I was able buy myself a BMW. The evening I drove it home, Tom was waiting for me dressed in his tuxedo, holding a silver tray with two champagne glasses and a bottle of the bubbly. “Most importantly, though, always talk together. My father used to ask Tom and me what we talked about so much. My response was, ‘Daddy, when we run out of conversation, we start over.’”

EVERYTHING FOR THE FAMILY

Diana and Julian Trevino have deep roots in San Antonio. Generations of Hispanic tradition governed their courtship. A combination of tradition, modern thought and dedication to family has made their marriage a success. “I remember seeing Julian in this band,” Diana says. “A friend and I would hang around, listening to them play. I was 15 and he was 18.” “She was a groupie!” Julian laughs, elbowing Diana. Julian remembers first seeing Diana in his parents’ grocery store. “She attended ballet school across the street,” he says. “She’d come in after class to get a soda or candy, and I’d see her. And of course, I knew of her. In those days, the Hispanic community knew each other very well, so our parents were familiar with each other. All the families knew each other.” The pair dated through high school and college. “We grew into love,” Julian says. “It was expected that we’d get married.” But his grandfather was the one who proposed. “We had to follow tradition,” Julian says. “Tradition dictated that my father and grandfather went to ask for Diana’s hand. She wasn’t allowed to be present. Because Diana’s grandfather was deceased, my grandfather initiated the formal conversation with her grandmother. He extolled my virtues, asking for Diana’s hand. When she granted permission, Diana was allowed into the room and informed that we were engaged. We waited a year and a half before we married, in 1965.” The couple support the idea of long engagements. “We took the time to learn about each other,” Diana says. “We learned that we enjoyed the same kinds of things and shared the same values.”

“I don’t believe in rushing into marriage,” Julian says. “If love is real, it’s going to be there.” Diana’s grandmother presented them with a three-month European tour as a wedding gift. They returned to San Antonio teaching careers, and Julian began working on his doctorate at Texas A&M University. By then, Julian’s parents owned El Mirador, a San Antonio restaurant icon, and needed Diana’s help to run it. Life became very hectic. “Julian could have continued working at the San Antonio Independent School District (SAISD) central office,” Diana says. “It would have been easier for us, with two young children and me at the restaurant. But he wanted to further his education, and it was important to him, so I supported him in that and carried my load. I’m proud of what he’s done — he’s been SAISD superintendent of schools, president of the school board and is now a UTSA instructor and a consultant.” “Diana puts her family ahead of herself,” Julian says. “She’s been saying for years that she wanted to take yoga lessons. This year I gave her yoga lessons as a gift. And what happens? Things come up, she put off going.” “He’s very considerate, like with the yoga lessons,” Diana says. “Instead of letting me put off the lessons, he takes on the task I think is preventing my attendance. ‘Go!’ he says. ‘I’ll take care of it.’ He does this because he knows I’ll give up or postpone something because I think it’s the easiest way to handle a situation.” “I know I can be a jerk,” Julian says.

“I know she works harder than I do. It’s a question of balance and support. In the end, it’s up to me to make her job easier.” Diana thinks this willingness to seek balance in marriage is important. “It seems like the attitude in marriage now is ‘me first.’ Marriage now is a stay-until-it-doesn’t-work, do-what-makes-you-feel-good kind of thing. People don’t seem to realize there is some sacrifice required in marriage; you have to do what you think is best for the marriage at the moment. If you make a mistake, learn from it and move on.” Diana believes her role in her marriage is different from that of her mother. “I’m a very strong person. In my mother’s generation, women were subservient; I am not that kind of woman. I give my opinion and don’t feel that because I’m a wife, my opinions have to be the same as Julian’s. I respect my mother’s tradition, but it isn’t mine. As a Hispanic wife and mother, I now see things as being balanced between old and modern ideas. I keep what makes sense to me and discard the rest.” The couple have passed their family values and traditions to their daughters and their grandchildren. Through the years, Diana and Julian have agreed that family comes first. “We don’t mind giving up our own plans to be with our children or our grandchildren,” Diana says. “We do a lot of give and take because that is what family does.” “There’s no question I’d marry her again,” Julian says. “I can’t imagine anything better. Look at what she’s given me, what my daughters have given me.

Why would I not say yes to that?” “I think we’re a perfect match,” Diana says. “Of course, I’d marry him again. I’d marry him again in a heartbeat. Being married to Julian has been fun! We laugh a lot and enjoy each other’s company. When he’s away, I feel like something is missing. This connection he has with me is important. It’s vital. It’s a part of who I am and who I want to be.” Maybe the Beatles had it right. In the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make. Love has no timeline.

by Robyn Barnes