A loving and happy marriage that lasts more than 50 years is a rare thing to have in this day and age. Meeting your soul mate by mistake is even more unique with the popularity of actively seeking out your partner through online dating continuing to soar.
Kenneth and Marjorie Feland of Ocoee are one of the very fortunate couples that found love unexpectedly. Happily married for 57 years, Kenneth and Marjorie are amazed at the story behind their first meeting and they know that they are blessed to have found each other.
The Couple’s Early Years
Kenneth, 81, who is a former petroleum engineer, grew up on a farm in Cassville, Missouri. “We were a fairly poor family,” he says. “I went to a one-room country school. One teacher taught 25-plus students, grades one through eight.” Since he was ahead academically, he was transferred out of his fifth-grade class and into sixth grade. “I finished my elementary school years in seven instead of eight years.”
When Kenneth graduated from high school, he wanted to be an aeronautical engineer, so he moved in with his sister and started going to school. He eventually ended up at Oklahoma State University, where he changed his degree to petroleum – the oil industry.
After earning his degree, jobs were hard to come by. Kenneth went through interviews and had several options. “One was in Venezuela, and one was with Exxon here in the States,” he says. “I didn’t want to go to the one in Venezuela. They asked me where I’d like to go and I said Texas.”
He got a letter several weeks later that said he was to report to work in Port Sulphur, Louisiana.
Marjorie, now 78 and a former pastor’s secretary, was born and raised in Port Sulphur. “I had the same classmates all through my 12 years at school,” she says.
After graduation, she moved to New Orleans to attend Spencer Business College. Eventually a company contacted her with an open secretary position. She worked in the sulphur mine area and enjoyed her job. She also enjoyed attending church, which was right across the street from the house where she lived with her parents.
Fate Steps In
When Kenneth began working in Port Sulphur, he wanted to get involved with church, so he found a Bible study close by. That Bible study is where he met Marjorie. Little did he know at the time, but he had just met his future wife. God had delivered him right across the street from her front door. “There was something there, that was for sure, because we got married that November,” Kenneth says. “We met in March, and we got engaged in July. We were both ready to get married.”
There was an attraction right away. She was 20 years old and he was 24. “She had beautiful blonde hair,” Kenneth says. “And, she had a good personality. We had a lot in common. It was important to both of us that our mates were Christian.”
At first sight, Marjorie says she thought Kenneth was a cool-looking guy and a nice young man that could make it an interesting pursuit for her. She even mentions that she thought he could be the one. “So we got to know each other,” she says. “We hit it off. We had the same values and the love of God and our church.”
The Felands were married in a small church in Port Sulphur. It was actually on their wedding day that Marjorie met Kenneth’s sisters for the first time. Marjorie had two bridesmaids and her sister by her side as the matron of honor when she married her soul mate.
Fast forward to present day and the couple has three children: Vicki, Ronald and Michael. Their seven grandchildren are all grown with college degrees and professions that include a doctor, a nurse and a speech therapist. They also feel blessed to have five great-grandchildren in their family.
The Secret to Their Happiness
The couple believes that one of the connections between their happiness and their lasting marriage is their faith. “The secret to Ken and Marjorie’s successful marriage is that they put Christ first and each other second,” Pastor Troy Schmidt of the First Baptist Church of Windermere, where the Felands attend, says.
When Kenneth and Marjorie are asked what has been the secret to their long-held union, Marjorie answers. “A lot of compromise,” she says. “Trying to put each other first. Its not all about me, me. Also, we stayed close to the church and made sure our kids were involved. We give God the glory for all of that.”
Along with compromise comes a healthy respect for the other person and his or her likes and dislikes. Kenneth enjoys working on radio model planes while Marjorie’s passion is stitching. She is even involved in several stitching guilds. “I’ve been retired for 23 years,” Kenneth says. “I like to stay at home, and she is the one who likes to go out. We think nothing of going our separate ways to do what we like to do.”
Many will say that receiving the letter with work orders to Louisiana instead of Texas was the best thing that could have happened to Kenneth. The Felands believe that too. “God brought him right to me,” Marjorie says. “It was a great mistake.”