The Hancock-Henderson Quill, Inc.
by Holly Willdrick, Quill Reporter
On a search to find the longest married couple in La Harpe we were lead to the door of Neal and Merle Patterson in La Harpe.
Neal was raised in LaCrosse and Merle was raised in Durham and are both graduates of La Harpe High School.
They were set up on a blind date when Neal was a senior and Merle was a junior.
Things went well because they have been together ever since and will celebrate 64 years of marriage on June 17.
The couple moved to Chicago after they were married in 1943. Neal took a job in a warehouse in the shipping and receiving department, while Merle worked as a secretary at a exterminating office.
In 1948 the Patterson's moved back to La Harpe when Neal was given the opportunity to run the FS Service Station.
They were also expecting their first child and wanted to raise them in a small town. Neal worked at the service station with his brother for 10 years before going on to drive a petroleum truck for 30 years.
After retiring he went to work part time at what is now West Central FS in La Harpe. Now he is really retired and enjoys doing whatever, whenever.
Merle worked at the La Harpe Hospital, the school cafeteria, Little Brothers, and the Fair Store before deciding to stay at home with her children.
Neal and Merle have two daughters. Cindy Kienol of La Harpe, who has three daughters of her own and Carol Boecker of Las Vegas. Their three granddaughters are Chrissie (Brent) Berlett of Ft. Madison, IA, Heather Kienol of Burlington, IA, and Niki Kienol of La Harpe.
In their "younger years" the Patterson's enjoyed traveling. They have been in all fifty states at least once and some more.
Their favorite trip was to Alaska, where they spent 18 days. They took a bus and train and returned by boat.
Neal also liked to bowl and hunt. They now spend most of their free time reading, doing crossword puzzles, and watching TV.
When asked what advice they would give to other couples for keeping their marriage as strong as theirs, they replied, "Spend time together. Be willing to give and not always take. Never go to bed mad."
Happy Valentines Day, Mr. and Mrs. Neal Patterson.