On the eve of Valentine’s Day in 1951, 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 find 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 one day after that fateful 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, Marie said, and the rest was history.
While Marie was still in high school, Lloyd learned that he would soon be 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 he was 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,” Lloyd said. “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.
“l’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 said. “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 getting married, 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.
“Our vows were sacred, and we’ve just loved each other. We’ve had disagreements, but it’s just always lasted,” Lloyd said. “The flame has never gone out. Sometimes it’s flickered when there’s differences, but it always comes back strong.”
Now, Valentine’s Day and the chocolates that come along with it serve as an annual reminder for the Starns of the love they share and how it all began.
“Love is different as you grow older, but it never fades,” Lloyd said.