By Celine Klosterman
KEOTA — Seventy years of marriage was a breeze — thanks to faith and a little compromise.
“It wasn’t hard at all,” said Verda Sieren, who wed John Sieren nearly 70 years ago, on May 3, 1939. “We just give in to things. We always just worked them out somehow.”
Religion certainly played a role, said 90-year-old Verda, who with John, 92, belongs to Holy Trinity Parish in Keota. “We were both good about going to church and praying to God. That was one thing that helped us out.”
The two met in 1938, when she was 20 and he was 21. Verda Adam was at her sister’s house near Clear Creek when John came by to buy some beef from Verda’s brother-in-law. Verda doesn’t recall the first words they exchanged, but does remember that John was impressed enough to stop at her home in Harper later and ask for a date.
“His parents were both dead, so he needed a cook,” she joked. After dating for a year, the two got engaged. After another six months, Father Jacob Schoenfelder celebrated their wedding Mass at St. Elizabeth Church in Harper.
She then moved to his farm south of Ss. Peter & Paul Church in Clear Creek. The couple eventually had four sons and a daughter: LaVern, Gary, Leland, John Robert and Mary Beth, now ages 51-58.
After polio left John unable to farm, the Sierens moved to Keota. Post-polio syndrome – characterized by muscle weakening beyond the initial bout of polio – eventually caused him to enter a nursing home three times. “But we brought him home every time,” thanks in part to prayer, said Verda. He’s still home today.
“If anybody is strong, it’d be him,” said Mary Beth Cave of her father. She called both her parents “very hard workers,” and said that, in marriage, “you just learn to stick it out. You just don’t ever give up.”
The Holy Trinity parishioner will have been married to Mike Cave for 34 years this July. The Caves have two grandchildren who are close to John and Verda; Mary Beth appreciates that the young ones are able to know their great-grandparents.
“They’ve always been there for me. They’re very supportive parents.” Their faith, too, is impressive, she said. “They put everything they do in God’s hands. They’re very, very, faithful.”
Said Verda, “Prayer’s made us what we are.”