They hooked up during the Great Depression years, and they’ve been inseparable ever since.
Ed and Evy Hunter recently celebrated 70 years of marriage at their favorite Naples restaurant, St. George & the Dragon, but that isn’t the half of it. At age 93 and 94 respectively, they plan on continuing the celebrations throughout the year, including a month-and-a-half trip abroad that will take in parts of Australia’s outback, as well as stops at exotic places such as Bali and Singapore.
No early bird dinners or retiring at 8 p.m. for these sprightly nonagenarians — the plan is to extract as much as possible from the experience.
The Hunters say the attraction for each other endures for one reason alone: mutual interests.
“Our likes and dislikes have always been very similar,” says Ed, who jokingly likes to tell people he “married an older woman.”
The twosome met in 1935 at a business college in Indianapolis, where Ed had grown up in a Greencastle, Ind., farming community, and Evy in North Madison, Ohio.
“We sat close together in assembly,” Ed says. “I was very impressed with her, and finally asked her for a date. This was just before Christmas, 1935, in the middle of the depression. We went to the Indiana Roof Ballroom ... it was the top place for young people. It was in the big band era.”
“We had a good time together,” Evy says with a slight smile crossing her face.
Their subsequent marriage hit a snag prevalent at the time — men were in need of jobs, so women were “penalized” for tying the knot. Unfazed, the couple opted for the vows. “Love was a little stronger than money,” says Evy.
Ed Hunter worked in the refrigeration business, in wholesale for the majority of his 50-year working career. They produced two children, Tim and Nancy, who in turn provided them with three grandchildren.
An interest in aviation lured Ed to acquire a pilot’s license at age 42. It turned out to be the catalyst for the couple’s subsequent interest in travel, both locally and internationally. Ed chose to fly himself to various conventions and trade shows in a “push-pull” Cessna Skymaster aircraft with engines mounted in the nose and rear of its pod-style fuselage.
He made a point of taking his wife along with him on these excursions, and the couple lapped up the attractions of places like Los Angeles, New Orleans, Atlantic City and San Francisco.
But bigger horizons beckoned. The couple over the years embarked on travels that would include South Africa, the African east coast (“In Ethiopia, Haile Selaisse was under house arrest at the time,” Ed recalls), New Zealand, Australia, Hong Kong and Singapore. There was a six-week Europe trip, tooling around with no fixed itineraries, in the ubiquitous ‘70s vehicle of the time, the VW mini-bus.
All travelers naturally have a pet anecdote, and Ed Hunter’s is the time their table phone rang while they were eating at a Berlin restaurant. Turned out a burly German patron had eyes for Evy, and wanted to meet her. He was quickly dissuaded from any amorous intentions by the presence of Ed and a male friend who had joined him and Evy for dinner.
For the upcoming trip, the Hunters will keep up their fitness regimens. Ed walks the 1.3 miles to the Marriott Marco Island Resort several times a week, and Evy does water aerobics in the communal pool at their Seaview Court condo.
As for a little indulgence here or there, both Ed and Evy enjoy some sort of cocktail most nights. “It’s usually a glass of wine ... used to be two or three ... but sometimes I like a good old martini,” Ed says.
There was also a time they enjoyed puffing on cigarettes, but at age 27 quit on the advice of their doctor. “Even back then, he knew it was bad,” Evy says.
Neither has any longevity advice either.
“We’ve never done anything special (diet-wise) apart from some vitamins, and we’ve avoided any major illnesses such as cancer,” Ed says.
“It must be something in the genes, you know. I’ve gone to the doctor twice thinking I might have some sort of heart problem, but he told me: ‘Ed, go home and take some Maalox.’ Turns out I had some indigestion.”
Turning philosophical about their ages, the couple laments that since their 60s they’ve lost three consecutive groups of card-playing and travel friends.
“It’s a great loss when someone dies,” says Ed.
But, thankful for their own extended lives, they now look forward to their promised year of anniversary celebrations, and their Australian trip — about 3,000 miles by train from Perth to Sydney, followed by the Malaysian cruise — together.