There have been many famous love stories over the years. Romeo and Juliet, Cleopatra and Mark Antony, Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. Scarlett O’Hara and Rhett Butler and Johnny Cash and June Carter are only a few of many well-known romances.
In the age of modern romances, it’s hard to find a genuine love story that has the power to last a lifetime. But once in a great while there comes a story of a special couple who are the epitome of true love.
The old saying “when you know, you know” is something Charles Glen and Mary Ann Roney knew all too well. After all, there really was no guessing or wondering for either of them. After a few dates at the local burger joint called The Clock in Flat River, they both knew true love had arrived.
The couple met at the Wilkinson apartments in Leadwood in 1958.
They were married at the Wortham Church of God in 1960 shortly after Glen proposed to Mary Ann in front of her house in Wortham.
They shared a lifetime of love spanning nearly six decades of marriage. This month the couple would have celebrated their 60th anniversary, a milestone most couples never reach.
Inseparable in life, they could not be separated in death. Glen, 80, passed away on a Tuesday evening on Aug. 4. His beloved bride, 78, passed away only six hours later on Aug. 5.
Now the couple’s legacy is their lifetime of love which they shared with their three cherished children, daughters Julie and Laura and son Bill, and their extended family and friends.
Glen and Mary Ann each kept diaries which they passed down to their children. In their diaries are treasured stories, Bible verses and words of wisdom.
The couple loved deeply, shared everything and grew old together. At the end, they were both physically fragile but did not want to be separated from one another. Being apart even briefly was agonizing for them.
Daughter Laura said their family had the opportunity to take their father home so he could give everyone a “few words of wisdom to live by.”
She said he talked to each of his children and grandchildren.
“Most families don’t have that opportunity,” she said, “but we did and we’re very thankful for that.”
A caravan of about 50 people gathered outside of Glen’s window to sing old church hymns.
The family opened Glen’s window so he could hear the songs. He occasionally raised his head to listen and patted his finger on the table.
“Dad was very musical,” said Laura. “He could play the bass guitar well.”
She said one of his greatest joys in life was singing with his three children. They sang together locally and ministered together at their home church for more than 40 years as the Roney Family.
“One of his greatest joys in life was singing with his family,” said Laura.
Daughter Julie agreed. She said the family could be found every Wednesday night at church when they would practice together. Mary Ann always brought snacks and watched her grandchildren in the nursery.
“We prayed before we sang that God would use our family,” said Julie. “We still have Dad’s song book and hundreds of pages of music that we will cherish forever. That’s a wonderful memory for all three of us.”
Laughing, she said if their father forgot the words to songs, he just made them up and they went along with it.
“Mom and Dad were so kind and always in a good mood and uplifting anytime you saw them or talked to them,” said Billy.
Most importantly, he said “they always put God first in whatever they did.”
He added that his dad’s favorite song was “Meet Me at the Table.”
The couple rarely missed church. They were always there to help in every way possible and never met a stranger.
“Everyone talked to them,” said Billy, “because they had so many great stories.”
One of those stories was when the couple first met. Glen quickly fell in love with Mary Ann. In fact, one of the things he wrote in his diary was when he first saw Mary Ann. She had “coal-black hair and a real good shape.”
Billy said his dad loved to hunt and fish. They also had horses at one time and went on trail rides.
“He also followed me all over the country and watched me play ball,” said Billy. “Dad and Mom took me all over the place.”
The couple continued that practice with each of their grandkids by attending their athletic events and school activities.
Laura said her father dearly loved his family. Glen’s parents, Wade and Eunice Roney, and his sisters were all close. Glen often bragged about his own father who played the fiddle.
In Glen’s diary, Laura said he frequently wrote about his outdoor activities and travels with his son and his grandchildren’s events.
Mary Ann also treasured her own family. Her parents, Dave and Zida Rasnic, had 12 children.
Their family together consisted of their three children, son Bill and wife Angie, daughter Laura and husband Tony, and daughter Julie and husband George; grandchildren Hunter, Hayden, Jed, Chance and Colten; and great grandchildren Wes, Ridge, Vivie, Scarlett and Everly.
The couple even worshiped together during the pandemic. They attended parking lot services with their family.
Faith was very important to the couple.
Laura said her parents always said the Bible was the “most precious book and most important book you could ever read.”
The couple often said church and Sunday School were two of the most important things parents could do for their family because “that’s where you learn the Bible basics and that’s where you learn to pray.”
“Dad would also say the Bible is your basic instructions before leaving Earth,” said Laura.
She said her mother always wanted people to know they served God together as a family. Her mom was saved at the age of 12. She loved the song “Thank You Lord for Your Blessings on Me.”
An entry in Mary Ann’s journal expressed her desire for people to love God: “Go to church. Love your family. Be kind to one another. Always help a friend. Go the extra mile. Finish what you start. And love every single day.”
In another entry she wrote, “Always sow the seeds of joy and gladness.”
Laura said, “Mom always tried to sow good seeds along the way. Actually, that is a statement true for both of them.”
Glen and Mary Ann were always kind and generous to those around them. One time a woman at church complimented Mary Ann on her dress and how good it looked on her. Soon after Mary Ann gave the woman her dress.
“Mom always put everyone else first,” said Laura. “She was always last.”
Julie said the couple loved their grandchildren and great grandchildren, who were “their whole world. They loved them all so very much.”
Mary Ann loved to go on shopping trips with her daughters and family. She had a special love for shoes and purses.
When she would be asked what she wanted for Christmas or her birthday, Mary Ann always replied, “A purse or shoes.”
Both her daughters said she could never have enough purses or shoes. She loved every color and kind.
The couple lived their entire lives in St. Francois County and were well-known in their community. Glen worked at Pea Ridge in the mines for years and then worked for the West County School District for 28 years. Mary Ann worked as a seamstress, at Wetterau; Walmart in Park Hills as a manager; TG&Y in Park Hills; and at Woolworth’s.
The Roneys had many friends including numerous friendships they’d made during their childhood. In fact, they had so many friends that there were more than 1,000 views of their online funeral service.
Losing both parents has been devastating to Julie, Laura and Bill. Even though the toll of grief their family is feeling is immense, the couple’s legacy will be a comfort to their relatives in years to come. Glen and Mary Ann’s steadfast faith provides a deep level of peace for their family and friends.
Laura said her parents were always preaching the gospel and showing God’s love.
“But sometimes they didn’t have to speak a word to people,” she said. “That’s a true testimony when your life is your testimony.”
Glen and Mary Ann Roney have left their family a wonderful legacy, one built of faith, family, friendship and true love.
Pam Clifton is a contributing writer for the Daily Journal
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