On the eve of Valentine’s Day in 1951, Hughson’s Lloyd Starn went on one last date with his girlfriend Marie before he was scheduled to begin his service in the Navy during the Korean War. He gave her the largest box of chocolates he could buy and popped an even bigger question, along with a ring: Would she wait for him to return home, and then become his wife?
Last year, 67 years and a day after that date, Lloyd once again bought Marie a box of chocolates — this time, with a note inside. It read, “Thanks for waiting.”
High school sweethearts, Lloyd and Marie attended different schools when they first met. He graduated from Hughson High School in 1950, and during that time, she was a cheerleader at Denair High School. They spotted each other one night at a basketball game and the rest was history.
While Marie was still in high school, Lloyd learned that he was being drafted into service for the Korean War. He decided to join the Navy, but knew he couldn’t lose the love of his life while away.
“We’d been going together for a while, and in my mind — I think it’s a fact — she was the prettiest girl at Denair High School,” said Lloyd. “I knew that if I left and went to the service that I could probably lose her.”
So, after receiving the blessing of Marie’s family, Lloyd asked her to marry him on Feb. 13, 1951. Though she said yes, it was still one of the hardest moments of his life, Lloyd remembered.
“I’ll never forget when I had to kiss her goodbye that night. I went home and just bawled,” he said. “But I never doubted that she loved me and I never doubted that she would wait for me.”
“I didn’t know you cried,” Marie commented to him during an interview. “See, we still learn new things about each other every day.”
While Lloyd was away, the couple wrote each other letters to stay in touch, they said, finally marrying in October 1952. Though she had to go to prom alone, their relationship was well worth the wait, Marie said.
“I’ve always thought Lloyd was a very wise person in everything that he did,” she said. “I have always loved him – always.”
After their wedding, the pair lived in Alameda while Lloyd finished out his service with the Navy, eventually moving west of Turlock where they raised dairy cows. Marie and Lloyd had four children and today live at Covenant Village of Turlock.
Together, Lloyd and Marie have shared a love that’s spanned nearly seven decades — something they say is rare, nowadays. The basis of true love is knowing the other person, they said, from their hopes and dreams to their deepest fears.
Lloyd summed it up this way: “Our vows were sacred, and we’ve just loved each other. We’ve had disagreements, but it’s just always lasted. The flame has never gone out. Sometimes it’s flickered when there’s differences, but it always comes back strong.”
When Valentine’s Day rolls around annually with its box of chocolates, the Starns are instantly reminded of how their love affair began.
“Love is different as you grow older, but it never fades,” Lloyd said.