Still valentines, 74 years later
DULUTH -- Today, like every day, Dan "Pinky" Skorich and his wife, Maree, will exchange the kind of custom-designed affectionate sayings that longtime couples develop over the years:
Maree Skorich will tell him she loves him and Pinky, always the card, will respond that he loves her "more-ther."
The Marble couple has had more Valentine's Days together than most. In October they will celebrate 75 years of marriage, one of the longest unions in Minnesota.
The secret to their lifelong relationship: "Joy and happiness and lots of laughs and good friends," Pinky Skorich, 94, said.
There was a light rain on October 23, 1937, when former Greenway football star Pinky Skorich married a quiet girl from Keewatin, the one he had determined was the cutest in her group of friends.
There is lore attached to rain on a wedding day, and the Skoriches won't dispute it:
"They say it's good luck," Pinky Skorich said. "We've sure had a lot of good luck."
Pinky Skorich met Maree Vranesh when they were both out on the town in Keewatin with separate groups of friends. His older brother knew her older brother. Pinky Skorich ended up walking all the girls home that night, saving his future wife's stop for last.
"She hit me with that arrow," he said.
"He looked like a gentle person," she said.
"She still loves me after all these years," he said.
Pinky Skorich said he wanted to kiss her that night, but she wouldn't let him. They hadn't even had a proper date, she told him.
He has a tall tale he likes to tell about picking up the marriage license, which cost $2.25 in those days. Pinky Skorich claims to only have had 25 cents on him. Luckily, Maree had him covered.
"She was Quick Draw McGraw," he said. "She had the two dollars. I still owe her!"
When the couple was first married they lived in a small house on Pinky Skorich's parent's land in Calumet. He came home from work and found his young wife waiting with dinner.
"She was standing at the door with the most beautiful pan of spaghetti," he said, then "the handle broke."
He scooped up the pasta dinner off the floor and ate it anyway, he said.
Pinky and Maree, 95, have three children: Mike Skorich of Grand Rapids and Michele Picchiotti of Las Vegas are twins. Dan Skorich is a Duluth ophthalmologist. There are seven grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.
Pinky Skorich worked for the Burlington Northern Railroad and traveled a lot; Maree Skorich went back to school and became an assistant librarian at what was then called Itasca Junior College in Grand Rapids.
Dan Skorich said his parents always stressed the importance of family and sticking together.
"They were just always very loving and there for us," he said. "The strength of their marriage was an example for all of us."
The couple lives in the same house they have had for more than 50 years. Pinky Skorich writes poetry, a relatively new hobby. He collects the handwritten rhyming couplets in a notebook. They take about 10 minutes to write, he said. Maree Skorich has her favorites and when he reads one, she mouths the words along with him.
Maree Skorich sings. For many years she was a soprano in the church choir at St. Basil of Ostrog Serbian Orthodox Church in Chisholm, where they were married. When they were first dating, she would sing "Goodnight, My Love" to him. She still does. As she sings he gives her hand a squeeze, closes his eyes and joins in for a few lines.
They work on crossword puzzles together -- in ink and without a dictionary. Maree Skorich's vision has weakened and Pinky Skorich has trouble walking. He's the talker of the group. She makes meals: spaghetti, pigs in a blanket, eggs and bacon and her signature apple pies.
She tucks him into bed every night.
"He never goes to bed without saying he loves me after all these years," she said.
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