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June Cord, Vern Havens share a love story

By LUANN MASON - For The Shelbyville News

They go hand-in-hand just about everywhere. June Cord and Vern Havens “love that”. It’s a simple gesture that connects them as her hand fits naturally into his and it keeps them young at heart.

It was a nice sunny day, 97-year-old Cord said, when she met 94-year-old Havens outside in front of her Ashford Place villa on North Riley Highway. “He was just wandering around, looking round. I said, ‘Welcome. You’ll love it here. People are very kind and all.’ He took one step at a time to walk closer to me.”

Not exactly, according to Havens, who remembered they were both in motion. “Well, she was walking toward me, so, of course, I walked toward her,” he said, as Cord laughed and rested her head for a split second on his shoulder. Right after they met, “I kissed her,” said Havens, his eyes open wide, framing a broad smile. “That’s the best time to get acquainted,” he said.

“I said, ‘That’s my man.’ It was love at first sight,” Cord said. She giggled at the memory. “He said, ‘I know God put you there because I needed somebody.’”

That was four years ago. Cord and Havens have been a couple ever since. Only three villas separate them. “Anytime I don’t want to be alone, I walk 100 feet to be over here,” Havens said while sitting comfortably in Cord’s living room.

They find comfort in knowing the other one is nearby. “I look to see if her (kitchen) light’s on in the morning,” Havens said. And, when Cord is home, she said, “I look at (Vern’s) window every chance I get.”

There’s a giddiness between them when Cord and Havens are together, and they are quick to tell others that they are in love. “Very much so,” said Havens. “I love to do everything with her. I love to be with her. I don’t see anything about being lonesome as good.”

Cord instantly cuddled closer to Havens for a moment, hugging his arm. “You make me happy,” she said. Havens responded, “I want you to be happy.”

They have found the right combination of romance and friendship. “We are the best of friends,” Cord said. “We spend as many hours together each day as we can. I’d say five to six hours a day. We’re in love.”

Prefaced with a mischievous grin, Havens said the romance appears in simple ways. “We go and have a beer and pizza every once in a while. We like Wendy’s real well, chili and a frosty,” he said, a comment that made the couple laugh.

As can be expected in relationships, though, Cord and Havens admitted there are times they don’t see eye-to-eye.

“We very seldom have a difference on what we wanna do,” Havens said. “But, if we do, she concedes to me or I concede to her. We make up real quick. I’ll tell you what she doesn’t like. When I raise my voice to emphasize something, she thinks I’m mad. I very, very seldom get mad at her. She’s very easy to get along with. She’s a lovely lady. We blend very well together. We like a lot of the same things and the same TV shows.”

Those likes specifically include the Indiana Pacers and anything Purdue. Cord said her sons, Tom of Las Vegas, Nev., and John of Columbus, are Purdue University graduates. Havens is, too. “I attended Purdue on the G.I. Bill after being discharged from the Navy, Jan. 13, 1945,” he said. “I have a degree in electrical engineering.”

Finally, Havens said, “She’s a good cook. That doesn’t hurt anything!”

Cord added, with laughter, “I’m a good nurse. I’ve worked at the hospital for 37 years (as a volunteer). I volunteered at the Cancer Store for many years, too.”

According to Havens, Cord likes everybody.

“She loves to talk to people, strangers or not. I’m not that way. I like to know people before I get to like them.”

He laughed because that was not the case when he met Cord. Remember, she said it was love at first sight. He certainly did not disagree.

As they continue through this phase of their lives, Cord and Havens have not lost sight of what brought them to this point. They share memories of spouses who have gone before them and endearing love for family. Havens was married for 59 years to Wanda Jean Phlueger, who died June 5, 2005.

“We met when I got out of the service (in 1945),” he said. “She worked with my older sister.” He has a son, Bill of Indianapolis, and daughter, Chris Miller of Cincinnati, two grandchildren and one great-grandchild. “I’m proud of every one of them.”

Cord was married just shy of 50 years to Ralph Cord who died from cancer in December 1992. In addition to the two sons mentioned earlier, Cord has three daughters, Jane Crady of Shelbyville, Susan Birmingham of St. Louis, and Lisa Cord of Florida, plus 10 grandchildren and 20 great-grandchildren.

“They mean everything to me,” she said.

With Valentine’s Day approaching, Cord scurried to the kitchen and brought out the first Valentine she received from Havens.

“I get her a Valentine card every year,” he said. Cord’s face glowed with love, and again she giggled, and rested her head on his shoulder.