August 12, 2022

Faith, joy and family define 75 years of married life for a Perry County couple

Hubert and Eulalae Hagedorn hold hands while surrounded by many of their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren in St. Mark Church in Perry County on June 10, 75 years after they wed in the very same spot. (Photo by Natalie Hoefer)

Hubert and Eulalae Hagedorn hold hands while surrounded by many of their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren in St. Mark Church in Perry County on June 10, 75 years after they wed in the very same spot. (Photo by Natalie Hoefer)

By Natalie Hoefer

TELL CITY—It’s June 10, 1947. A photographer captures the image of Eulalae and Hubert Hagedorn, ages 18 and 24, who had just said “I do” in St. Mark Church in Perry County. Hubert stands proudly beside his bride. Eulalae glows in a long, white gown, simple and straightforward, much like the couple’s approach to life.

Their smiles speak of joy and hope for a beautiful future.

It’s June 10, 2022. On the same spot where they pledged their love in St. Mark Church 75 years prior, the Hagedorns, 93 and 99, sit in chairs surrounded by their many children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren—the fulfillment of their joy and hope.

Their crowning pride is that “all seven of our children are wonderful, productive people, and all seven of our children are practicing Catholics,” said Eulalae.

“That’s a testament to the way our parents raised us,” said their daughter, Becky Hubert.

But the faith that defined their lives was not always the faith of her mother. Her faith journey began when she danced one night with the man who would become her husband.

‘It gave me more purpose in life’

Eulalae and Hubert grew up not far from each other in rolling, rural Perry County in the southwestern part of the state.

“We’d known each other almost all our lives,” she said.

But one night, something changed.

“It was about a week or so after Hubert got out of the army” after World War II, Eulalae recalled. “We met at a country dance hall.

“It was almost love at first sight when I saw him. He came up and asked me to dance, and oh boy, that’s all she wrote!”

Hubert recalled being attracted to her personality “and too many other things to count.”

The couple dated about nine months before Hubert finally popped the question.

“He asked me to join the Church so he could marry me. I decided that was my proposal,” Eulalae said with a laugh.

But she didn’t become Catholic just to marry Hubert. Rather, she fully embraced the faith.

“I thought it was something to be really proud of and help you live the way you should,” said Eulalae. “I think it gave me more purpose in life.”

That life began each day with the Huberts offering prayers and saying the rosary in the morning.

From there, it was non-stop work. Hubert was a welder in a shipyard in Tell City along the Ohio River, while Eulalae raised the children—cooking and cleaning for nine. After the last of their seven children started school, she worked in a production factory.

‘The fondest memory’

But the labor the Hagedorns loved most was working their 190-acre farm as a family. There were crops to plant and harvest. They cultivated a garden to feed a family of nine with fresh or canned produce year-round and raised “every kind of animal you can think of,” said Eulalae.

“We’re very simple people,” she said. “I think the fondest memory we share was working together on the farm. There was plenty of work for everyone, and everyone had their responsibilities.

“That work ethic taught our children that you don’t get anything handed to you. You have to work for it.”

Becky recalled her mom being “probably one of the best cooks in Perry County,” and a wonderful seamstress as well.

“I made my kids’ clothes,” said Eulalae. “One thing I sewed that I’m most proud of was when my daughter was prom queen and I made her prom dress.”

When Hubert and Eulalae weren’t busy with work, the farm or the children, they could be found volunteering at St. Mark.

“Dad served on the parish council. He was on the cemetery committee for more than 20 years, and he was in the Holy Name Men’s Society,” said Becky.

“My mom was a member of the Ladies’ Altar Society. She was always contributing for funeral meals and did her fair share of serving them.”

It wasn’t until the pandemic hit that Eulalae gave up her role as head cook for the parish’s annual chili supper, said Becky.

“I don’t know how long she did that—a long time,” she said. “She took half her kitchen to the church in September, and weeks before that she would start gathering utensils and prepping for the supper.

“I never knew a time when Mom and Dad weren’t active.”

“I didn’t let grass grow under my feet,” Eulalae admitted. “And Hubert was a hard-working man.”

‘Follow the Golden Rule’

Little has changed for the Hagedorns. They have lived in the same home for 75 years—“with a few additions,” Becky added. They still have a vegetable garden, but just for two now instead of nine.

And they still start each day with prayer—“morning prayers for all the family, and a rosary for the good of the family,” said Eulalae. “It’s just part of our life.”

With the Hagedorn’s love for their family and faith, nothing else suited them more for celebrating their 75th anniversary than gathering with their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren for Mass and a party at St. Mark. Family came from as far as North Carolina and Washington, D.C.

“I’m very proud of what they’ve done for us all and what they made out of us,” said their oldest son Edward Hagedorn, who served at the Mass honoring his parents’ anniversary. “They taught us the right way to do things, and with seven kids that’s hard to do. The work ethic we were taught was to do your share of the load. I still live by that.”

Becky agreed.

“They have taught us to help people without expecting anything in return,” she said. “I saw them do that at church, with Mom’s devotion to the auxiliary and Dad serving so long on the cemetery committee.”

Even the third generation of Hagedorns see the generosity of their grandparents.

“They are amazing and just so special, very selfless and giving,” said the Hagedorn’s granddaughter, Leslie Miles. “They love all of their family—Grandma knows about what’s going on with all of us! It’s just so heartwarming, seeing them together for 75 years,”

How has the couple succeeded in their three-quarters-of-a-century marriage?

“Faith and love for each other is what kept us going,” said Eulalae. “And you have to give and take. It’s not ‘I want all’ or ‘you do all.’ ”

For Hubert, the answer is simple: “Follow the Golden Rule—treat each other like you want to be treated.” †

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