For John and Clarice Nehrt of Crothersville, working together has been the key to a successful marriage.
By doing that, they have been able to maintain their love for each other for 70 years.
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“We have problems just like everybody else, but we solve them ourselves,” said John, 91. “You talk it over, you think about it, ‘Well, what are we going to do? Let’s do this.’ It’s working together, solving your situations as they arrive.
“There are things that we don’t always agree on, but we talk about them and have learned to be satisfied with what we decide,” he said. “She has done things for me, and I tried to do things for her. If it satisfies her, it just makes me happy.”
Clarice, 92, said it’s all about having the right mindset.
“You can get along with anybody if you want to,” she said. “You’ve got to be willing to give in on some things. You don’t always get your own way.”
June 21 marked their 70th wedding anniversary. They even had to come to an agreement on advertising that accomplishment in the town’s newspaper. The last time they had done that was for their 50th anniversary.
“It’s just another day,” Clarice said, smiling.
“We decided it would be all right, nothing extravagant, just a small notice if people didn’t realize that we had made it that far,” John said. “Those years just keep on slipping by. You don’t see too many at 70 or more.”
When the Nehrts celebrated 50 years together, John said they received quite a few cards in the mail from people wishing them congratulations.
For their 70th anniversary, they recently received a gift basket from their son, Michael, who lives in Georgia, and several cards have come in the mail.
“And it’s possible we’ll get more,” John said.
The Nehrts were only two years apart while attending Crothersville High School, but they didn’t get to know each other until they both attended Immanuel United Church of Christ in town.
John grew up attending that church, and Clarice’s family started going there after her parents got married.
In their late teens, John and Clarice took music lessons with Frank Bollinger. He would come to town from Seymour once a week to teach them and a few other kids how to play the piano and organ.
Clarice wound up playing the organ for the church and other churches in the area along with funeral services and weddings for nearly 70 years. She stopped doing that in 2012 and has since played on her own organ at home.
“I was helping somebody that needed help,” Clarice said of what she liked about playing the organ for people. “It’s good therapy.”
John, on the other hand, didn’t do much beyond the lessons.
“I wasn’t really interested, and I never did stick with it,” he said. “Finally, my folks decided it wasn’t leading me anyplace. I practiced and had my lessons, and over the years, I forgot it. I couldn’t play a middle C anymore.”
John worked at Morgan Packing Co. in Austin when he was 16 and then moved to nearby American Can Co. when he turned 18.
After high school, Clarice earned a diploma from Seymour Business College and then became the secretary for the provost martial at Freeman Army Airfield in Seymour.
In November 1944, John was called to serve during World War II. He went overseas with the Field Artillery Observation Battalion in March 1945.
Soon after arriving back home in the summer of 1946, he and Clarice began dating. They decided to get married June 21, 1947, at Immanuel Church of Christ.
They built a home on West Main Street a couple of years later and still live there today. Clarice’s great-grandmother used to have a home on the property.
John remained at American Can until the plant closed in 1988, spending 36 years in the shipping department.
After the airfield closed in 1946, Clarice worked for Brownstown Loan & Trust Co. until their first child, Michael, was born in 1954.
They went on to have two more children, and Clarice stayed home to raise them.
“She had several jobs lined up. In fact, she had one lined up to go to work on Monday, and I talked her out of it on Sunday,” John said of his wife. “I told her all the time I thought the kids appreciated it, her being there when school was out and what have you, and if we could make it on my salary, I would just like for her not to have to work.”
Clarice said she didn’t mind staying at home.
“It was my job,” she said. “We made one salary stretch.”
Besides taking care of their kids, Clarice also did housework, gardening and yard work. She also found time for crocheting, quilting and playing the piano and organ.
She also picked up painting at one point, and John used his woodworking skills to make frames for the pictures. Several of those hang on the walls of their home.
Names: John and Clarice Nehrt
Ages: He is 91, and she is 92
Residence: Both are lifelong residents of Crothersville
Occupations: He retired in 1988 after working for 44 years at American Can Co. in Austin; she worked at Freeman Army Airfield and then Brownstown Loan & Trust Co. before she stayed home after they had their first child
Family: Children, Mike (Deb) Nehrt of Rock Springs, Georgia, Cindy (the late Mike) Cozart of Crothersville and Holly (Kevin) Foster of Seymour; five grandchildren, Tracy Graviet, Neal Nehrt, Julie Cozart, Devin (Carol) Cozart and Drew Foster; and three great-grandchildren