Local Couple Celebrates 76 Years of Marriage: It’s a Matter of Loving to Be Together

Paula McKibben   “I have one good piece of advice. I learned early on that her outlook/opinion was much better than mine. I depended on her good common sense” (Luther Shetler, Feb. 6, 2017).
   This is one good reason why Luther and Geneva Shetler recently celebrated their 76th wedding anniversary. They were married on Dec. 22, 1940, in Goshen, Indiana, at the Eighth Street Mennonite Church.
   They had a lot in common. They both grew up on farms: Luther on a dairy farm outside of Goshen, and Geneva on a turkey and crop farm outside of Archbold, Ohio. They even both had college aspirations.
   They met at Goshen College as students. Luther was majoring in math/science and Geneva was in elementary education.
While in school in Goshen, he was the friend of Orbus Eash, an architect major. They joked that one day Eash would be a famous architect and draw the plans for Luther’s house. And those were the plans that Luther worked from when building their home in the woods across from the stadium on Augsburger Road. Built in 1959, the house was heated and air-conditioned through a heat pump, an idea ahead of its time.
   Of course, like all construction projects, it wasn’t finished quite on time, but the family – consisting of Jonita (Clemens), Terry, Lu (Derstine), Peter and Tami (Hardy) – moved in before the inside was complete. As a result, that first Christmas, a pile of boards was stacked up in the living area. To celebrate Christmas that year, they threw a sheet over it and used it for Christmas decorations.
   Then there were those winters in the late 70s when the drifts in the woods were 10 feet high. The deer were able to eat the tops off their trees to survive.
   They retired to their home from education 30 years ago; she taught for 20 years in Archbold and Bluffton in kindergarten and third grade, and he taught for almost 40 years in Indiana and Ohio while earning his doctorate, completing most of his years at Bluffton College as the famous math man with the bubbles.
   That’s right. Luther Shetler is the man who taught math skills in classrooms and assemblies using bubbles. The bubble vision that astounded many was enclosing a person in a bubble.
   After retirement, even though he was still doing bubble shows, they traveled together through Learning in Retirement, their favorite destination being Costa Rica. Luther recalls being followed by a howler monkey whom he talked with on the hike, both of them howling at one another.
   They came back to their home after their trips. It had been their home for 50 years. He was 94, and she was 92, and they decided it was time to leave the home that had been designed by a friend and built by Luther himself.
   Now they soon will be 100 and 98, living in an apartment in Maple Crest. “We are very happy here. There’s a good staff, good friends, we’re well taken care of,” says Luther.
   But most of all, they still have one another. Geneva says she doesn’t know what they would do without one another. “It was a matter of loving to be together. As we got older, we really needed each other for support. You get to think as one. You understand each other. You sort of grow together.”
   Happy Valentine’s Day, Luther and Geneva!