Siblings celebrate 50+ year marriages

Five Hogendorn sisters celebrated 50 years of marriage or more with a renewal of vows at St. Joseph Church in North English recently.

By Elizabeth Starr
The Catholic Messenger

Marriage, family and faith brought together five sisters on the same day in the same Catholic church to celebrate wedding vows spanning 50 years or more.

In the presence of family, friends and parishioners of St. Joseph Catholic Church in North English, the five Hogendorn sisters renewed their marriage vows with their spouses. The celebration took place during Mass on June 15, with the pastor, Father David Wilkening, presiding.

The five couples are:


• Jo Rae Hogendorn and Norman Peiffer, married June 13, 1959. They have four children and live in Murray, Ky. Jo Rae met Norman when she worked as a ticket taker at the Orpheum Theater in North English. They were set up on a double date. Jo Rae said, “people think marriage is 50/50, I don’t believe that. It’s more like 80/20. Sometimes you feel you’re giving 80 and sometimes he gives 80. I think you have to go beyond the 50/50 and really work at it to make (marriage) work.”

• Marsha Hogendorn and Jack Raitt, married June 23, 1962. They have six children and live in Iowa City. They met at the Dance Land Ballroom in Cedar Rapids. “We are a dancing family. Our parents met at a dance also,” she said. Jack, an only child and originally non-Catholic, married into a strong Catholic family of 10 siblings. “He loves having brothers and sisters now,” Marsha said. “We do a lot of things together as a family.”

• Denise Hogendorn and Phil Naughton, married June 12, 1965. They have three children and live in Waterloo. They met at a dance in North English. Denise said, “having your partner be your best friend” and confidant is an important aspect in marriage. Denise and her two older sisters also wore the same wedding dress.

• Leslie Hogendorn and Doug Slaubaugh, married April 8, 1967. They have four children and live in Wellman. Leslie met Doug through a family she babysat while attending cosmetology school. The couple’s first child was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis. Doctors said he wouldn’t live to be 5. He lived to be 47. His twin children are neighbors to Leslie and Doug. Leslie said her Catholic upbringing helped her marriage. “I don’t know how many families get the opportunity to do this (vow renewal),” she said. “God has been good to our family.”

• Honore Hogendorn and Mike Johnston, married May 30, 1969. They have four children and live in Davenport. Honore said 50 years of marriage “went fast.” She met Mike when they were growing up in North English. To her, the keys to a successful marriage are shared interests, shared faith and, most importantly, a shared sense of humor. Through good times and bad, “you know that person is always there for you. You don’t always agree, but you know you can always count on them,” she said.

Discussion about celebrating the couples’ long marriages began in January. The other Hogendorn siblings are Terry, Dave, Kris, Lenny and April. When Dave, 79, died in March, his family felt even more inspired to gather to celebrate renewal of vows. Initially, they planned to come together for Mass and lunch afterward. Fr. Wilkening suggested including the vow renewal. As a child, he was a student of both Jo Rae and Marsha in Sigourney.

The siblings credit their parents, the late Carl and Bertilla Hogendorn, for setting an example in their marriage. They owned and operated the local newspaper, The North English Record.

“Faith, family and community were foremost in our upbringing,” another sibling, April Hogendorn Rouner said. They regularly prayed the rosary and attended daily Mass. “Growing up, our dad was not Catholic,” she said, “but did attend church with us on holidays and was very supportive of our faith. Before he died (in 1986), my dad did become Catholic.” Fr. Wilkening administered the sacraments of initiation, welcoming Carl into the church.

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