Art and Mary Rezac have more anniversaries under their belt than many others have birthdays, and after nearly seven decades, the two are still going strong.
Oct. 16 will mark 67 years since Art and Mary took their vows at Pierre’s Ss. Peter and Paul in 1954.
“I’ll take her to McDonald’s for dinner,” Art said as he waited for her reaction. “No, we’ll probably go to Cattleman’s.”
Mary heard Art’s initial suggestion, but she waited for him to be serious despite the pause.
“I let him finish what he has to say,” she said. “If I don’t like it, I walk away.”
Art continued his banter, adding, “Well, I’m always right.” No pause this time around. Mary was quick to respond with a bit of laughter.
“We don’t have very many disagreements, and those are pretty minor,” she said.
Art made his way from South Dakota State University to Pierre in 1950 and spent a year working for the state. Both the move and job would lead to Art and Mary crossing paths.
“I worked in the state, and he worked in the state, and he had to bring papers up to my office,” Mary recalled. “We each taught Sunday School between masses.”
Art still remembers where and when he proposed to Mary. He said it was on a trip to Sioux Falls for a friend’s wedding.
“I just popped the question,” Art said. “We had dated for about two years before I had the nerve.”
At the time, Art, 95, said he was 28 when he proposed to Mary, 90, then 23. To celebrate her Sept. 20 birthday, Mary said the two plan to attend the Pierre Concert Series’ Ball in the House a cappella concert.
By the time the two married, Art was an insurance agent and recalled spending evenings away from his bride while he worked.
“I was a busy agent,” he said. “I worked a lot of evenings. There was no internet, so people were available for me to work with them in the evening. It was a struggle, but we survived it. I went on to be in the Equitable Life of N.Y. Hall of Fame.”
Mary left her state job and stayed home with the kids.
“I haven’t worked outside the house since we got married. Maybe a month or two, but not very long,” Mary said. “After the kids got into school, I did a lot of volunteering. I’m still doing volunteering at 90. We had four great kids. We went to a lot of school activities that they were all in.”
Art spent the last 19 years volunteering at the South Dakota Heritage Center.
South Dakota Historical Society Foundation Volunteer Coordinator Dorinda Daniel said Art logged 1,972 hours at the Heritage Center since 2002. She added he also volunteers in the State Archives during off-season golf months.
“He still golfs, maybe three times a week,” Mary added, as she told him to show a photo of his last hole-in-one.
“I have three holes-in-one in my active time of golfing,” Art said. “This last one was at age 93.”
Art isn’t the only one spending time giving back to the community through volunteerism.
Mary volunteers at Avera Maryhouse. However, she summed it up as the Maryhouse knows what she’s done, and that was all the attention she needed.
Putting the golf photo back, Art picked up their wedding photo.
“When we got married, the Mass was in Latin,” Mary recalled while looking at the photo. “We did our vows in English. I don’t remember mine.”
Art cut in, saying he vowed to stay with Mary for 67 years.
The two still spend time going out on dates and enjoying each other’s company.
“We go out every Saturday night with friends,” Art said. “We haven’t had a breakfast at home on a Sunday since we got married. We always go out. That’s pretty much it. We are just a routine family. That’s about as exciting as we get.”
Pete Rezac said he is grateful his parents are still in good health and enjoying life.
“I’m not sure what the secret to their success is…. I think their friends, faith, and being active is what the secret is,” he said.
Mary Jo Rezac said she always felt like her parents were the kids’ biggest fans in life.
“They’ve always shown support for whatever we are doing, and I still value their opinions and advice… even though I have to admit that when it always didn’t take …they never said ‘I told you so.’” Mary Jo said.
Art credited their faith as one reason the two are still married after all these years.
“We are kind of a simple family,” he said. “We were raising a family, making a living.”