BAXTER - A few years after Harry and Christine Magney were married, they paid 25 cents to have their palms read by a fortune teller at a festival in Milaca.
The fortune teller examined each of their hands, then predicted the couple would share a long life together.
And so it appears the fortune teller was right.
The Magneys will celebrate their 70th wedding anniversary on Friday, surrounded by family and friends at Excelsior Place in Baxter, where they have lived for the past year.
Christine is 94; Harry is 95. They say the secret to their successful marriage is love - and their faith in God.
"He's the most wonderful husband. I'm lucky to have such a good husband. I always brag him up," Christine said, about Harry. "I have prayed many times that the Lord not take me from him because he needs me. I know he'd be lost without me. "
The Magneys met as teenagers in Big Lake when Christine, then 15, went to a friend's farm and met Harry, then 16, who was working on the farm, planting potatoes by hand. While they dated for about a year they then went their separate ways. About five years later, they met up again when Christine was home in Big Lake visiting her family. The couple was married Nov. 18, 1935.
They've survived three tornadoes and a house fire that destroyed their farm home in Big Lake. And last year, the couple survived a car accident that nearly killed Christine. On May 15, 2004, when they were driving north of Milaca to their home east of Brainerd from Big Lake, where they had been visiting relatives, they were struck by a car.
Christine was airlifted to North Memorial Medical Center in Robbinsdale where doctors at one point pronounced her dead - her heart had stopped twice. She spent a month in the hospital and then time at a Little Falls nursing home, recovering from her injuries, which included two broken vertebrae in her back. It wasn't until Sept. 4, 2004, that she was able to return home to Harry, who also was injured in the accident but his injuries weren't as life-threatening as Christine's.
"It was terrible," said Christine, of her time away from Harry. "Every day in Little Falls I cried. I wanted to go home. I missed him. And he missed me."
The Magneys decided to move to Excelsior Place from their home east of Brainerd last May. They had lived east of town for the past 19 years and previously lived in the Deerwood area. For many years, Harry had a large garden and would sell vegetables. For a time, he operated a vegetable stand in Brainerd.
The Magneys have three children, including two sons and a daughter. One son has since died and they are survived by their daughter, Loretta Finden, Buffalo, and their son, Dean Magney, of Nampa, Idaho, and many grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Finden said her parents became Seventh-day Adventists in 1950, which has contributed to their longevity. They don't drink, curse or smoke and have always eaten well.
"They just live right," said Finden. "I think it's awesome they've managed to be on their own all these years until last year."
Roger Swanson, also of Buffalo, was delivered on his family farm by Christine, her first and last delivery, he said. Christine and Harry are his godparents as well as his aunt and uncle.
"They're great people," said Swanson. "They're just super folks. To stay together for 70 years you've got to be doing something right."
The Magneys said they enjoy reading and play the board game, "Tri-Ominoes" together nearly every night. They go to church every Saturday, using their matching walkers with the built-in seats. Most of the time each knows what the other is going to say before it is actually said aloud.
"It doesn't seem like 70 years," said Christine. "And I don't feel 94 but my body says I am."
Christine's advice for a long, happy marriage is to "give of yourself more than you expect to get back" and have the love of God in your heart.
"If you love a person, you don't hurt her," added Harry. "That's the way I feel."
The couple said they never argue and Harry said he would never cuss, yell or strike his wife.
"I could never do that," said Harry. "I just loved her all the time. Ever since I met her."
JODIE TWEED can be reached at email@example.com or 855-5858.
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