Special Report: Decades of Dates

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CALEDONIA, Minn. (KTTC) – Love. It’s a simple word that holds such a strong meaning.

But have you ever found yourself losing that spark with your partner?

One Caledonia woman seems to have found the secret that kept love alive and strong with her late husband.

Marge and Lowell Birkeland were together for nearly 70 years.

Marge said the secret to her long and happy marriage was a weekly date night.

“It makes you grow closer together,” said Birkeland. “Like one big heart.”

The year was 1948 and love was in the air.

“As soon as we saw each other, we knew it was love at first sight,” said Birkeland.

Marge and Lowell Birkeland first met at a baseball game between Houston and Ridgeway. He went by the nickname Berkey.

“After that, we started dating every Friday night and that continued throughout our whole lifetime, so that was the beginning of our date night,” said Birkeland.

Their first date was spent roller-skating in Witoka.

“We had a wonderful time,”said Birkeland. “He could waltz and two-step on roller-skates and do all that fancy stuff that I couldn’t.”

They were married in June 1951 and it was Berkey’s idea to keep date night going every Friday. Marge found it was really good for their marriage.

“You felt much closer and more loving and just needing each other more for support, and it gave you a more comfort feeling,” said Birkeland.

And each week, they looked forward to the next date night.

“You know it’s going to be a special time in your life with your husband, just the two of you,” said Birkeland. “And you can talk about things that you wouldn’t normally do otherwise.”

Sometimes date night was as simple as dinner and time together, while other times it was an adventure.

“A lot of times we went down by La Crescent, we ate and watched the boats go up and around the river,” said Birkeland. “Different times we went and took our antique car and went out and just rode around and enjoyed the scenery.”

A few years ago, Margie and Berkey celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary in a very creative way.

“He has the same tie on, I have the same jewelry on; everything is the same,” said Birkeland. “We went to church and then we went out to eat to celebrate out 65th wedding anniversary with our wedding clothes, can you believe it?”

Living in a small town like Caledonia, word got around about the Birkeland’s weekly date night.

“I know there’s several couples in town now started date night after they heard about ours, because they thought it was such a neat idea,” said Birkeland.

Local restaurant Good Times was a frequent date night spot for Marge and Berkey, along with other couples from town.

“It just really gets you closer together and you just find more contentment and there’s more love there, peace, and you seem like you just grow closer together,” said Birkeland.

Through health and sickness, date night went on.

“When my husband got cancer, we still had our date night but I went out and got food and brought it back,” said Birkeland.

When Berkey passed in May of last year, his final wish was for his wife of 67 years to continue on with date night.

“Valentines Day is going to be special,” said Birkeland. “I know he’ll be with me.”

Marge tells KTTC that she still goes on date night each week, either by herself, with family, or close friends.

Sarah Gannon

Sarah Gannon

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