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'In sickness and health': North Royalton couple reflects on a loving marriage tested by life's turmoils

Dave and Pat Fink were married live on NBC way back in 1957, and remain deeply in love despite unforeseen challenges.

NORTH ROYALTON, Ohio — "Sixty-five years and one day," Dave Fink says with a smile.

That's how long Dave and his wife Pat have been married. You can plainly see their mutual affection in the way they look at each other, the way they hold one another.

"We've had a very good life, a very good marriage," Dave tells us. "We are very happy together."

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They traveled all over the country in their motor home. They also love cruises, with Australia and Africa topping the list.

"We've never really argued in all of these years," Dave said. "We've had a disagreement, but never an argument."

It all started at North Royalton High School — 10th grade English class, to be exact.

"I tapped her on the shoulder, and I said, 'Hi, my name is Dave,'" he remembered. "And she said, 'I know,' so I knew she was already looking herself.

"She had beautiful hair. It was dark and down to her waist."

But it was Pat's heart, sweet voice, and character that had him at "hello."

"She was what I was looking for."

Dave had proposed to her before his training for the military He asked her to wait, and she did, which set up a rather unique wedding.

"When I came home, my grandmother used to watch a TV program on Channel 3, "Bride and Groom" out of New York," Dave recalled. "So she asked for an application, because she knew we were going to get married."

Their application was accepted, and on July 31, 1957, they flew to New York City and got married in front of NBC cameras broadcast across the world.

"Your dress was beautiful," Dave tells Pat all these decades later. "It was handmade."

A live audience would cheer them on, and they loved it. It was a joyous start to a life together: A house, three kids, 10 grandchildren, and 11 great-children would follow.

But, life tested them.

"When we made our vows, I made a vow to God that it would be forever," Dave says. "In sickness and health, until death do us part. I kept that promise and I am at peace with myself, and for her, I think she feels the same way. There's no other one."

In 2001, Pat was driving a school bus full of kids in North Royalton when she suffered a stroke, hitting a few cars before finally coming to a stop. A second stroke followed just five years ago, and as a result, she lost nearly her entire ability to speak.

"She doesn't have much of a speech," Dave admits. "She can recognize what I am saying."

Dave now is her caretaker, and they spend their days content to just be together.

"If I had to do it over again, I would do the same," Dave said. "I'd marry the same person, I'd make a life together. I might not want to work to as much as I used to, but I still love her, and we will be together after we pass this life.

"I don't know what the secret is, but in our case, the sincerity of our love has lasted through turmoil, sickness, and life."

And the memories in their large photo album are enough to last them a lifetime and more.

"We are just as young as we were then," Dave laughs. "We might not look it, we don't feel it, but we are."

He then turns to his beloved wife.

"I love you," he says.

"Love you, too," Pat responds.

"That's what she always tells me. 'Love you, too.'"

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