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Valentines for 63 years

February 13, 2013
By Michael Tidemann - Staff Writer , Estherville Daily News

Ask Donna Mayland what it takes for a couple to stay together for 63 years and you'll get the same answer - repeatedly.

"Just kissing and making up," Donna says.

It was 63 years ago today that Alfred and Donna were married at the Little Brown Church in the Vale near Nashua. That isn't the whole story, though. Theirs is a story of a love that took root on the Iowa prairie and that has continued to grow as strong and solid as the wild prairie grass that was here long before them and that will continue long after.

Article Photos

Rosewood Manor residents Donna and Alfred Mayland are celebrating 63 years of marriage today.
EDN photo by Michael Tidemann

Alfred was born in Titonka April 19, 1928 - Donna was delivered by her grandmother April 22, 1929 in Swea City. "We kind of thought we were made for each other," Donna says.

When Donna first met Alfred, she was mad at him. It seems that his family moved into the farmplace a couple miles away, displacing her then-current boyfriend. Alfred was just getting to the age of being pretty decent boyfriend material himself, then - about 18 he figures.

Alfred's sister Marian, though, was friends with Donna. It seems that Alfred's parents had the big house and there was a tenant house. So Marian invited Donna to the tenant house for a birthday party - Alfred's.

And that's where they met.

"I didn't like him. He moved on that farm and my boyfriend moved away," Donna recalls of her first meeting with Alfred.

That didn't turn Alfred back, though.

He took her to the ballroom at Fairmont, Minn. - her first time dancing ever. That was where they first heard Midnight Waltz, which Donna to this day considers their song.

"We still like country," Alfred is quick to add.

"He said, 'When we get old enough, will you marry me?' I said, 'You bet.'"

That wasn't the only time Donna was ever mad at Alfred. She got mad at him again - when he joined the United States Marine Corps in 1945. Alfred was stationed at Inyokern - now China Lake. That went on for four years, and when he was out of the Corps they were married in 1950.

They rented some farm ground near Alfred's parents and Alfred tried his hand at the plow.

A little thing called the Korean Conflict came up, and Alfred was on standby in the Marine Reserves for a couple years - but thankfully never activated.

They later rented a farm a mile east of Elmore, Minn. for a couple years - the landlord died before they moved there.

Then Alfred milked cows for a man 10 miles east of Blue Earth, Minn., on a 50/50 basis, for four years. After that, they moved to southwest of Rake for 25 years.

Later they bought 120 acres by Thompson and in the 80s Alfred bought another 80 - bad timing, as it turned out. "That didn't work so good," he says.

Alfred decided to haul heating oil for Ron's LP in Lake Mills as Donna worked processing crop insurance claims. One day when Alfred was working the ladder shattered and he broke his hip. Fortunately, his Worker's Comp helped them along for a couple years. That was when he was 75.

So what's kept them together for so long?

"We don't have any magic formula. We just stayed married for 63 years," says Alfred.

"It takes a lot of kissing and making up," repeats Donna.

Their son, Douglas, gave them three grandchildren - Jordan, who is playing or has played in the rock bands The Wheelers, Tires, Nuclear Rodeo, Volcano Boys, Electronidoll, Mantis Pincers, Keepers of the Carpet and the Thermal Detonators. He teaches drums and guitar and centers out of Des Moines, having played in such venues as Chicago and New York. Holly is in human services in Clear Lake and Maria, their adopted granddaughter originally from Guatemala, plays basketball at Buffalo Center and graduates this year. "She's just as beautiful on the inside as she is on the outside," says Donna.

So is it easy, staying together all those years?

Well, no.

"It takes effort," says Donna. "A lot of kissing and making up. And because I love him."

"We never thought about it ever," Alfred says of their more than six decades together. "You just get there."

"I just thank God," adds Donna.

So what's their secret to a long marriage?

"Kiss and make up," says Donna. "Kiss and make up because it will pass."

They've had their share of travel - starting with their honeymoon at Bradenton Beach, Fla. They've also been to Hawaii and Mackinac Island, Michigan and a stint when they delivered RVs around the country. "It never failed. Donna was the one that broke down," Alfred notes.

One time Alfred was driving and went in the ditch at 55 then right straight out again - without a scratch.

"God had us in the palm of His hand," sighs Donna.

They're living in Rosewood Manor now as Alfred recovers from a second hip surgery he had in November. It's a familiar and comfortable place for them both, though, since Alfred's mother went there in 2001 to live out her last years.

The main thing, though, is they're there together.

"It takes a lot of kissing and making up," sighs Donna.



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