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Wow: Same shop, same flowers, same love

In 1946, Ed Hanson bought his wife Betty yellow roses for their wedding at Pearson Florist & Greenhouse in River Falls.

On Aug. 17 of 2011, Hanson bought yellow roses from Pearson Florist for his wife for their 65th wedding anniversary.

In a world of frequent divorces, Ed and Betty's daughter Siri Smith said it's refreshing to see her parents relationship endure and flourish.

"It shows that they're both still in love," said Smith, "You can tell that they still think the other person is the best person around."

Betty and Ed Hanson met at the 1941 Wisconsin State Fair. She was the Pierce County 4-H Dairy Queen. He was in the statewide 4-H demonstration competition.

There was a dance that night. Betty asked Ed to be her escort.

"She asked me first, 'Do you have a pair of white pants?'" said Ed.

Young men had to wear white pants to attend the ball.

It so happened that Ed did have a pair of white pants. He escorted Betty to the ball.

Betty graduated from high school, left her home in Martell to go to college at UW-River Falls. She and Ed started dating.

When Ed went to pick up some yellow roses for Betty before their wedding at Pearson Florist, Mrs. Pearson told Ed he and Betty were brave.

"She said that it was courageous to be married after the war," said Ed.

For 65 years, Ed has been getting yellow roses for Betty from Pearson Florist on their anniversary.

This year, when Ed went to get Betty her five yellow roses, he shared the story with Pearson Florist owner Joanie Toland.

Toland told Ed the refrigerator she took the roses out of is the same one the roses he bought Betty on their wedding day were stored in -- 65 years ago.

Smith said she thought the respect her parents have for each other has been key in keeping their relationship stable over the decades.

"They've not tried to mold each other," said Smith. "They tried to live and grow side by side."

Ed and Betty have lived on the farm Ed was born on in 1922. The town of River Falls farmhouse on Hwy. 29 has been in the Hanson family since 1910, said Smith.

Ed and Betty started off as dairy farmers, transitioned to selling Heifers, then transitioned again to raising steers for meat.

The couple worked their farm together, building fences and milking cows side-by-side, said Smith. Ed said he thought that contributed to the longevity of his marriage.

"We worked together as a team, and I think we respected one another," said Ed. "I wouldn't say there never were any sharp words between us, but we never got to the point where we wanted to go alone."

Ed and Betty still run their farm in cooperation with their son Peter. Their grandson Cole also farms, under Peter's mentorship.

The Hansons have five children: Charley, Peter, Paul, Siri, and Kristi who passed away in 2009 from pancreatic cancer.

Family, said Ed, has been one part of what kept him and Betty together for 65 years.

"Family is important," said Ed, "and a sense of humor."

As parents, Smith said Ed and Betty have always been very supportive.

"I think it's more about moral support and encouragement," said Smith. "I'm sure that they wanted their children to be independent... just like they got to be."

Growing up and living through the Depression and WWII, said Smith, has had its effect on her parents.

Coming from a time when there was little to no instant gratification, and people had to work hard to get everything they got, people simply worked harder to keep it. Ed said he thought that also was a factor in his and Betty's long marriage.

Ed said divorce is seen differently now than it was in the past.

"It's just at the point where if they disagree in something," said Ed, "they'll just throw up their hands and they sort of go their separate ways."

Ed said he has toiled hard over the years, building farm buildings, and maintaining them, and has worked the same way on his marriage.

"If you work hard enough for something," said Ed, "it has a real meaning to you."

Smith summed up her view of her parents' life philosophy with a quote by William Ellery Channing: "To live content with small means."

"I think that suggests that you don't have to be over the top with anything," said Smith. "And not extravagant, not boastful."

Ed and Betty like to go for drives together. In the past the drives, said Smith, have been outings with the family, or social visits to neighbors' houses, but now they are drives out to Martell, so Betty can reminisce over her childhood home.

Smith said she hopes to someday have what her parents do.

"I'm not there yet but I'm working on it," said Smith. "I feel like that's how my parents got there. They were working on it.

"If people can aspire to find their best common ground, and hang together that long, and be happy: Wow."