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Valentine anniversary: 50 & counting!

Howard and Florence Miller in the kitchen of their home on Fourth Street. The couple will celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary Saturday, on Valentine's Day. Vera Roy-Stoeberl photo1 / 2
Howard and Florence Miller's wedding reception2 / 2

Saturday's an extra special day for Florence and Howard Miller of River Falls.

Not only is it Valentine's Day, but it's also the day they were married -- 50 years ago.

The Millers were featured in a Journal story in 1989 when they celebrated their 30th. Today, they're still happily married.

What's their secret?

Howard says, "It's being able to get along with each other," while Florence says, "It's being willing to take care of each other," like those traditional wedding vows state: In sickness and in health.

Fifty years ago, he was a buff and burly Marine whose toned physique and military uniform attracted Florence; Howard said, she was "...a good looking blonde."

Florence worked at a Hudson grocery with Howard's sister. They met when he provided transportation for his sister to and from work, and one day offered to give Florence a ride home as well.

Today Howard's retired and though technically she's also retired, Florence works part-time in the food service department at the high school.

"It's an ideal job," she said. "It gets me out of the house for a few hours every day, but I also have all the holidays off and my whole summer off as well."

Retirement affected Howard's daily routine also.

"When he retired, I appointed him chief cook and bottle washer," said Florence with a smile. "And he's a very good cook! He also does all the grocery shopping."

Howard said his specialty is "...steaming, red-hot chili," a tasty version that won him a blue ribbon in a local chili cook-off.

Despite a few bumps their marriage has endured. One was the loss of their adult son to cancer. Florence says his untimely death strengthened the couple's bond.

Another was Howard's devoted and diligent care for Florence as she recuperated during a month-long battle with kidney stones.

"He was such a good nurse," said Florence. "He took care of me for over a month. We have to be able to do that for each other and even more so as we get older."

Howard noted Florence did the same for him when fell ill a few years back.

Twenty years ago the couple said honesty, communication and a bit of romance were important aspects of their relationship. In that 1989 story, Howard and Florence spoke about their daily ritual of giving each other a hug and a kiss every morning as well as a kiss goodnight.

Do all those minor but meaningful routines still hold true?

According to the Millers, they do indeed.

"Oh, yes," said Florence. "We still share those kisses and we still even hold hands, like when we're on vacation."

Fifty years of anniversaries tied with 50 years of Valentine's Day celebrations: Has Howard ever forgotten their special day?

"Never," he said. For the past several years Howard, who's a snowmobile enthusiast, schedules a vacation of sorts for himself and Florence that always falls around Valentine's Day, when they head up north to Michigan to take part in a yearly snowmobile gathering that features racing with antique snowmobiles.

"We spend about 10 to 12 days up there," says Howard. "Whenever most old folks go south, we go north."

"That's how we've spent our anniversaries," said Florence.

But this year it'll be a bit different. The couple still plans their Michigan snowmobiling vacation, but also plan another trip in March to Arizona in honor of their 50th. They're not planning any type of special party or gathering of any sort.

According to Howard, having a wedding anniversary on Valentine's Day is economical.

With a big grin he said, "It means I only have to buy her one present."