Seventy Years…and Counting! Part I

Ruth and Ed Schwaegerle and Gretchen and Ken Roose are among the Founders of Kendal at Oberlin, who moved here when the community opened in 1993. Both couples recently celebrated their 70th wedding anniversaries, and while their pace may have slowed some, they continue to be engaged and engaging. Now in their nineties, both couples have seen many changes and experienced much in their years together.

Gretchen and Ken

Gretchen and Ken

How do you live into your nineties in relatively good health and sustain a marriage of seventy years? 

World War II broke out soon after Ken and Gretchen Roose were married. Ken was preparing to present his orals for a doctorate degree in economics, and Gretchen was finishing a degree at U.C.L.A. Neither of those happened, as they left for Washington, D.C., where Ken was recruited to serve as an economist. A draft notice finally arrived, and always having abided by Quaker values, Ken indicated he was a conscientious objector to the war, and eventually was awarded this status. In place of military service he was assigned to a conservation camp in California, where other conscientious objectors, including other men from historic peace churches were serving. Ken and Gretchen remained there throughout the war.Ken finished his doctorate and taught Economics at Yale, U.C.L.A. (where Gretchen finished her degree in English), Oberlin, Oakland University (MI.), and Penn State, where he was Dean of the College of Liberal Arts. During these years, they had four children. Finally 20+ years later the Rooses returned to D.C., where Ken was appointed Vice President of the American Council on Education.

It was during Ken’s early days of teaching that Joseph McCarthy and his cold war tactics had arrived, and all teaching staff at U.C.L.A. was required to sign written statements indicating they were not communists, nor did they sympathize with them. Ken refused, was fired, and fortuitously was immediately offered a professorship at Oberlin College. Now with children in tow, they moved to Oberlin, a place where they made lifelong friends, with whom they shared similar values.

Upon retirement, the Rooses moved to Florida, but the Oberlin ties proved strong, and with encouragement from friends they returned to Oberlin becoming two of the Founders of Kendal at Oberlin.

Through all their moves, tennis was a constant in the lives of Ken, Gretchen and their four children. It connected them to people wherever they lived. Gretchen and Ken were instrumental in the building of the tennis courts at Kendal. They both have led active lives, with volunteerism an important part.

Both Gretchen and Ken agreed that they couldn’t have imagined back in 1942 that they would be married 70 years. Gretchen shared that she doesn’t think there’s a secret to longevity and a lasting marriage. She said you have to keep an open mind, talk to each other, and spending the last nearly twenty years at Kendal may have helped the longevity!

Read about Ed and Ruth tomorrow…