She was the school beauty - green-eyed and clad in a blue dress as she stood selling cotton candy behind the high school concession stand when a dark haired 14-year-old boy on crutches limped into the gym sporting yellow cowboy boots and a too-small plaid farm jacket.
For Arlin and Marlene Berry, it was love at first sight
"I felt sorry for him," Marlene shares, a twinkle in her eye.
"She kept slipping me candies, trying to lure me into coming back to see her," Arlin adds, laughing as he takes her hand. "She didn't have to try too hard, though, once I figured out that she would write all my papers for me."
Though Arlin and Marlene's love is evident today, it wasn't always. A divorce, remarriage, five children and 61 years of work and sacrifice tell the story of love that endures against the odds.
While people say more than 50 percent of marriages in America fail, Arlin and Marlene's story proves that marriages that endure are not only possible, but well worth the sacrifice.
"They have been persistent in their efforts to love. They are by no means perfect, but they have always pushed on and forgiven each other for the sake of their greater happiness and the happiness of their family," said Lani, the Berry's youngest daughter.
The young couple divorced
After dating throughout high school, Arlin and Marlene married at the ages of 17 and 19. The young marriage quickly succumbed under financial and emotional strains. After four years of marriage and the birth of three sons, Arlin and Marlene divorced.
Marlene packed up her three young boys - all under the age of four - and left her hometown of Burley, Idaho to study art at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. Arlin was working road construction jobs in Las Vegas, and the two resigned to struggling through life separately.
Their story was all too typical, but what happened next wasn't
As Arlin recounts the story, gentle silence fills the room. Bittersweet tears brim at his eyes while his voice shakes, the words painful for him to say.
"I was working one day, when I felt this outpouring of something greater than me," he said. "I knew what I had to do. I called up Marlene, and I asked her if I could come back."
"I told him yes, but with conditions," Marlene said, smiling gently.
That pivotal moment in which Arlin swallowed his pride to ask for forgiveness, and in which Marlene decided to forgive, planted the seeds of a powerful legacy.
In the years that followed the two re-married. Arlin worked construction jobs while Marlene earned her BA in art, then Marlene taught English while Arlin earned his BS in accounting.
The family moved from Utah to New York, fearless in their ambitions to make a life. In the following years two more daughters were born, making the Berry clan complete at seven.
"Sometimes I don't know how we did it," Arlin tearfully shared, "We had nothing. We had no idea what we were doing, but maybe that's why we were able to succeed. We were both just naturally ambitious, and we worked hard."
What it takes to endure
As both shared fond memories of the numerous homes they built and remodeled, community service they rendered and times spent with family, the love accumulated over the years shined through.
"Being able to work together and overlook each other's weaknesses has been the basis of our love," Arlin said, "and being able to do both of those things for the greater love that we both had for our family, despite our frustrations with each other."
When asked what advice they would share with other couples, the Berrys said the secret to enduring love is the ability forgive, and the ability to work together - and to work hard. As Arlin puts it, "You have to endure life together to have enduring love."
Lilian Whitney studies Communications with emphasis on News Media. Lilian was drawn to journalism at a young age, when she would paste over newspapers and write her own articles about her family and neighborhood, leaving the newly crafted publications on neighbors' doorsteps. Lilian is from Twin Falls, Idaho, and is passionate about classic literature, education, politics, thrifting, public speaking, music, cooking, and writing. Lilian hopes to use journalism as an advocate for goodness in the world.