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Sunrise couples married 60 years renew their vows

During their 60 years of marriage, Kenneth and Carol Meyer have made many memories together, traveling to 101 countries.

The Meyers made another memory Feb.  8 when they renewed their vows at the assisted living center, 500 Hunt Club Road, alongside Daniel and Dorene Dunkleman, fellow Sunrise residents married 61 years.

Sunrise's three married couples living in the facility were all to participate, but sadly, Robert McCann's wife Juliette McCann passed away Feb. 4. Robert McCann's beloved wife was honored at the vow renewal ceremony.

Mady Kaleel, activities and volunteer coordinator, said she thought a vow renewal ceremony would be a nice Valentine's Day event for her residents. Kaleel said she wonders what life was like for the married couples at Sunrise before they came to live there. "It's amazing how people can stay married for so many years," she said.

The Dunklemans lived in Deerfield for much of their married life and were Sunrise Assisted Living's first residents 11 years ago. Brittany Ritz, care manager, said the couple likes to exercise together, go to socials and do trivia. 

"He [Daniel Dunkleman, 88] calls her sweetheart, and they always look for each other when they're separated. If she [Dorene Dunkleman, 87] sees him without his coat, she says, "Go get your jacket" and makes sure he has it on," Ritz said. Dorene Dunkleman said the key to a long-lasting marriage is respect.

At the ceremony, Kaleel said the Dunklemans would follow the Jewish custom of breaking a glass and saying, "Mozel tov." "We have an arch and we'll be decorating everything," Kaleel said days before the ceremony. Each couple, the Dunklemans and Meyers, will have their own part of the ceremony with memories of their marriages shared.

The Meyers, sitting in their Sunrise apartment, reminisced about their decades together and raising their three children.

Carol Meyer, 81, said she met Kenneth Meyer, 81, when they were in high school and he was the leader of their church youth program. "He was so much fun," she said.

Kenneth Meyer said in those days "you got married early." After their wedding in a church, "There was a tradition where you'd chase the bride away from her husband," Kenneth Meyer said. 

"My brother headed the chase. They thought we were staying at the Hyatt in Chicago – they called and there was a Meyer checked in there. Well they went that night and knocked on the door and some old man answered," he said with a laugh.

Carol Meyer worked at IBM to put her husband through graduate school. He pastored in Glenview, Rockford and Minneapolis, Minn. Kenneth Meyer was president of Trinity International University in Deerfield from 1974 to 2008. The university gave the Meyers a grandfather clock to commemorate his time as president which stands in their Sunrise apartment. 

What kept them together for so long was patience, trust, faith in one another and God, they said. Carol Meyer added, "We're old school. Once you got married, you stayed married and worked out your problems. Divorce was a bad word and people barely thought of it." 

Kenneth Meyer said Sunrise has been a wonderful place to live with his wife. Previously, the couple had to live separately while Carol Meyer lived in another assisted living facility when she started having memory problems. Their daughter suggested the move to Sunrise so they could live together. "Mady [Kaleel] takes care of everything," he said. 

Through Feb. 14, Sunrise Senior Living is fundraising for Alzheimer's with LOVEable packages – a balloon bouquet with a bear. Proceeds will be donated to the Alzheimer's Association. For information, call 847-856-8100.

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