When one thinks of what a perfect marriage would look like, the same points are bound to pop up: a romantic story of how they met, building a warm household together, traveling together and enduring hardships, but continuing to stay together. If your idea of a perfect marriage fits this mold, you are thinking exactly of Max and Irene Pierce, who have been married for 71 years. The couple met when Irene was a junior in high school, and Max was four years her elder. Irene’s best friend was dating Max’s best friend at the time, and one day the two were introduced.

“We rode in a rumbleseat in a Model A for our first date,” Irene said. “In those days women didn’t wear slacks, so it was kind of hard to fit into a rumbleseat. Those were fun years.”

The couple continued to date, and right before Max was sent to fight in World War II, he gave Irene a diamond ring. He operated Long Toms in battles in England, France and Germany, including the Battle for the Rhine. Max left battle on recuperation leave, and the couple was married July 6th, 1945.

Max finished out his service, and worked for Cities Service Gas Co./Williams Natural Gas, hopping from town to town. The couple waited five years, then had their first of three children. Irene worked as an insurance agent until 1974. Eventually, the couple settled in Newton, and have lived there for the past 64 years. Both were fortunate enough to retire early, and spent the next 30 years traveling in a 28-foot trailer, with Irene’s brother and his wife, to places like Arizona, Texas and states all across the west.

“My brother and Max were good company. An ornery, ornery pair of guys,” Irene said.

The two decided to stop traveling in their 80s. In 2010, Irene fell and hit her head. When doctors did an X-ray, they discovered she had thyroid cancer. She had to be in isolation for certain extents over the next two years. In 2011, Max had a quadruple bypass surgery and an aortic valve replaced. The doctors told them that there was a very good chance that Max would die on the table. Miraculously, Max survived the surgery, and was up and about in two day's time.

“That’s God's work, there’s no other way to explain it. The Lord wasn’t through with him- he knew I needed him.” Irene said.

The couple stated their faith as the reason for their long-lasting relationship.

“Some spats in this day and age are enough to get you a divorce, but were able to work through it and pray about that,” Irene said. “He’s a keeper, he’s someone you can depend on. He’s our rock.”

The love between the couple still shines through, all these years later. Max even shared his keys to having a long-lasting marriage.

“She’s always been there for me, and she always put me first,” Max said.