Joe and Mary Racine celebrated 65 years of marriage on Aug. 26, 2020.
Joe met his wife during his senior year of college after a church service. She was a freshman. When he called her for their first date, he had forgotten that he had rifle team practice that evening. Fortunately, other team members also brought dates, so she had company.
Mary is from Steeleville. She had planned to major in education, but that changed when Joe proposed to her. She said yes and they married after his graduation.
After rearing four sons, Mary now enjoys reading, her iPad and traveling. In her younger life she was very active in the church, but Joe says her biggest accomplishment is spoiling him for 65 years.
Joe is from Benton, the son of a coal miner. He worked as a farmer and carpenter for the SIUC museum during college and now appreciates the lack of time because he would have found mischief instead.
After graduating and marriage he worked for McDonnell Aircraft Corp. in St. Louis before reporting for U.S. Air Force pilot training. He earned his wings and was assigned to a “reconnaissance unit,” meaning he flew spying missions while the Cold War was starting to escalate.
After serving for 10 years, he was released to inactive reserves and began a 28-year career as an American Airlines pilot.
The couple decided to spend their retirement years in Waterloo to avoid the colder climate of Northern Illinois, claiming that “there are few better places to live than Waterloo.”
Joe knew Waterloo natives Paul Mueller and Emmit Mueller from his dorm room days. He says that he and Mary really like living here and that he has never seen a small city that works so well.
“Everything works; no potholes, efficient city employees, friendly citizens. After all, isn’t that what life is about, family and good friends?” Joe said.