When Adriene and David Prosser met while ice skating in their hometown of Youngstown, Ohio, the teenagers had no idea they would be embarking a lifelong partnership.
Now the Manhattan Beach couple is poised to mark 50 years together May 24—a milestone only 6 percent of married couples reach, according to U.S. Census Bureau Reports.
“David and I aren’t the same people we were when we were 16 years old...We were fortunate to grow in the same direction and are also very supportive of each other,” Adriene explained of defying the odds.
“It is unbelievable that a group of friends like ours have all been married for so many years. It’s just amazing,” David added.
Indeed, the Prossers aren’t alone: their immediate social circle includes three other local couples who will also be celebrating their golden anniversaries this year.
The group commemorated their collective occasion with a festive evening at the Manhattan Beach Badminton Club May 11, and sat down with Southern California News Group to share some words of wisdom about making love last for five decades.
It all began at a bar called Mother’s in Inglewood in the summer of 1968.
Pam Ortiz, then 21 and visiting family in California from Minnesota, joked the decision between the two states was an easy one to make.
“1968...California, Minnesota?” She said weighing out the options in her hands. “So I stayed.”
George Ortiz, a 23-year-old bartender at the time, had ventured to the area from Arizona in pursuit of an affordable college education.
“They had junior colleges out here for $12 a semester, so I came out here,” he said.
The couple met when Pam came in to the bar one night while George was working and the rest is history.
The Ortiz family has since traveled the world together, including spending time in Saudi Arabia opening up stores for Safeway.
The pair just celebrated their 50th anniversary May 2.
When asked the secret to keeping their marriage alive, particularly through tough times such as the death of one of their two sons, Pam said it’s all about sharing.
“But it’s never 50/50. It’s more like 60/40,” she explained.
“That’s what my dad said when I got married. He said you give 60 percent and ask 40 percent back. Both of you do that,” George added.
And, Pam noted, they are a family that sits down and has dinner together whenever their son comes to visit.
“We cook as a family,” she continued.
Their friendship with the Prossers and the other couples in their group has also played an important part in their relationship.
“We do a lot and have a lot in common with these people,” Pam said.
Terrie Mileski was a 23-year-old flight attendant when she ventured into the Buccaneers, a big singles bar in Manhattan Beach in 1968 with a girlfriend.
While on the outing, she met 25-year-old Dave Mileski.
“When I saw her, I said...I think this is the woman I’m going to marry and I pursued her,” Dave mused.
Unfortunately, the local bartender was already set to leave for a six-month duty in the Army Reserves.
“I had to go and do my duty right when I met her basically,” Dave explained.
Despite the separation, the two kept in touch.
“We were writing letters,” Terrie said.
“And I flew back to Dallas on my way to basic training,” Dave added.
When he got out of the Reserves, Terrie had already left the airlines and moved to Manhattan Beach where the pair would settle for the rest of their lives together.
The Mileskis, who have two children and three grandchildren living in the South Bay, are set to celebrate 50 years of marriage Oct. 18.
“The secret, I think, is that we’re both committed to staying together. No matter if we fight or what bugs us about each other, we know we’re going to be together,” Terrie said of their longevity.
“The easiest thing you do when you have a problem is to walk away. It’s hard to sit down and discuss it and get it resolved,” Dave added.
Terrie said an easy chemistry from the get-go has also helped to make their relationship successful.
“I think we’ve been lucky because we’re just compatible and it worked,” she mused.
Monyean Acuna, a Southern California native was a teenager at an all-girls Catholic high school when she met the love of her life, Lou Acuna.
“There was an event that was going on at his high school. Whenever they would have that sort of thing, they would invite the girls from other schools. So that’s where I met him,” she explained.
But, Monyean admitted, she didn’t know how important this boy would be at the time.
“I think it’s just luck, our meeting. Who would’ve expected it?” she mused.
Lou, a native of Mexico City, eventually went into the Army and later worked for the Los Angeles City Fire Department while Monyean worked for her family’s window company.
But the couple stayed together through all of life’s changes.
“You like each other and you grow. We have grown in separate ways, but…” Lou began.
“That fortunately work together,” Monyean finished his sentence.
The pair, who has one daughter and two grandchildren, just celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary April 12.
Lou said, during his time as a firefighter, his coworkers would ask him how he and Monyean were making it work through the years.
“It comes naturally. We still like each other,” he laughed.
Monyean credits the pair’s lasting romance to something she discovered the night of that high school dance.
“It just worked. There was an easy give and take, there was never a lot of drama. We just clicked for some reason. From day one he makes me laugh,” she added.
“And from day one, she makes me cry,” Lou joked.
For the Prossers, hosting the group of friends in their Manhattan Beach home means Adriene is in the kitchen cooking delicious treats while David is pouring glasses of vino.
The couple, who has one daughter and two grandchildren living in the area, have a palpable chemistry, sharing their favorite song is “My Girl.”
But, everything isn’t exactly perfect.
As David does a humorous impression of his wife leaving drawers and cabinets open around the house, Adriene remarks her husband’s finger-drumming on his leather arm chair drives her crazy.
The Prossers admit, in spite of these little irritating idiosyncrasies, the key to making their marriage work has been never giving up.
“Times were hard of course, mentally and financially, but I don’t think there was ever a time in our marriage where we wanted to walk out on each other. I think that’s important,” Adriene explained. “Neither of us has that attitude. It was well okay, here’s a problem right now but we’re going to get through it.”
“Well put,” David agreed.