‘Marriage is not a trial:’ South Kansas City couple celebrates 75th marriage anniversary on Valentine’s Day

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Very few people can say they have been married as long as one couple from south Kansas City.

Russell and Carol Brandsma first met in 1941. Carol was headed to a roller derby with a girlfriend when Russell just couldn’t resist.

“She was a real beauty,” he said.

“He just kept on walking with me and wanted to know where I was going, and he said, ‘Well, why don’t you come to the roller derby with me next week?’” she recalled. “I had never in my life been out with a boy.”

Carol obliged but their courtship would have to wait a couple of years. Russell enlisted in the Navy following the attacks on Pearl Harbor.

However, when he returned home, the two decided to tie the knot.

Their wedding date: Feb. 14, 1945.

“There was no one else. I just wanted to marry her, and we got along very well together,” Russell said.

“He was a very wonderful person and was very good to me,” Carol added.

Seventy-five years later and the Brandsmas say family, faith and service has been the foundation of their long marriage.

“Having those things motivate you to do more really for the community and for God,” he said.

Carol and Russell spent decades volunteering their time on mission trips. They have four children, six grandchildren and ten great-grandchildren.

The couple, now in their 90s, said it takes a lot of compromise to last as long as they have.

“You have to be understanding and accept the person for who they are,” Carol said.

The Brandsmas say marriage is not a trial. It’s a commitment — something they believe gets lost in today’s world.

“You don’t desire what others have,” Russell said. “Be satisfied with what you have, not get caught up in a rat race of our world, which is the biggest problem.”

The Brandsmas admittedly are content and said growing old together has been one of the joys of their lives.

“I love her and will love her until the day we are called home to be with the Lord,” Russell said, holding his wife’s hand.

“I thank the Lord for a good husband and for all the years he’s given us,” Carol added.

The two plan to spend their 75th anniversary with family this weekend.

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