MARQUETTE - When people learn that Ruhl Bunker and Gloriana Bushong are engaged, a look of surprise crosses their faces. The couple have known each other since the ages of 9 and 10, but will walk down the aisle together at the ages of 80 and 81.
Bushong, who is from Mount Pleasant, and Bunker, who is from Mason, met in 1942, when Bushong's aunt married Bunker's dad. They became fast friends and remained close until they entered high school and went their separate ways.
"She got married, I got married. She raised a family, I raised a family. But her sister was a link between us so that we could keep updated on each other's lives," Bunker explained.
Gloriana Bushong and Ruhl Bunker reminisce over a photo album. The two have known each other since 1942 and will marry at the ages of 80 and 81 on Aug. 23. (Journal photo by Abbey Hauswirth)
In 1963, Bushong and her family moved to Ishpeming, where she raised six children. Bunker remained downstate, where he raised two children. Bushong also has 13 grandchildren, 48 great-grandchildren and 15 great-great grandchildren. Bunker has 12 grandchildren and 15 great grandchildren. Throughout the years though, Bunker always kept Bushong in his thoughts.
"I rode a motorcycle to work each day, and many mornings I thought, "'I should just head up to the U.P. and see Gloriana,'" Bunker chuckled. "The hankering was always there to see her."
When Bushong's husband passed away, Bunker, who had left an unhappy marriage, decided to give her a call.
"Pretty soon we were burning up the phone lines talking to each other," Bushong said.
In December of 2003, Bunker moved up to Ishpeming and he and Bushong picked up where they had left off 60 years ago.
Both love to travel and have spent the past 10 years exploring various U.S. states from Louisiana, to New Mexico and California, as well as spending a few winters in Florida. Bushong also has a passion for crafts and she and Bunker have participated in several craft shows selling their most popular item: the microwave potato bag.
In May of this year, Bushong's birthday fell on Mother's Day, and Bunker took her and her family to Jasper Ridge for dinner.
"I was sitting across the table from Gloriana and I stood up and asked for everyone's attention. Then I looked right at her and said, '"Gloriana, will you marry me?"' Everyone's mouths just dropped!" Bunker laughed. "No one knew it was coming, right out of the clear blue sky."
Bushong laughed as Bunker recalled that day and added, "The first words out of my mouth were, '"I hadn't even thought about it!'" Then of course I said yes."
The couple plan to marry during Bushong's family reunion in Mount Pleasant on Aug. 23. Their kids have taken care of many of the arrangements from decorations, to outfits and making the cake.
When asked the secret to finding love at this age, they both agreed it's no real secret.
"Marry someone you love and who makes you happy. Simple as that," Bunker said.
Bushong agreed and added, "I don't think you're ever too old to get married. Ruhl has always been my favorite buddy."
They smiled at one another and Bunker concluded, "She has always had a spot in my heart."
Abbey Hauswirth can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 240.