Raise a glass to laughter and abiding love

Note: In honor of Valentine’s Day, I’m writing about couples I admire. I first met the Kewleys in 1979 and I’ve loved them ever since…

A slight but significant shift in Susan Ladky’s 1948 social calendar gave Dick Kewley all the encouragement he needed.

“She switched me from one of her Friday night dates to her Saturday date and I knew I was in,” he said.

The couple spent the next 68 years celebrating life, love, friendship, faith and family.

“We never missed a beat,” Sue Kewley said.

Today, at a hard-to-believe 90-years old, both Dick and Sue maintain the appealing sense of elegance and fun that brought them together in the first place. Sue still moves like a ballet dancer, with enviable posture and a sleek sense of style.

I joined them for Happy Hour last week and explained my Valentine’s Day project.

“I would like to write about couples I admire,” I said.

“We’re getting divorced,” Sue joked.

“Sorry, kid. We’re kaput,” Dick said at nearly the same time.

I laughed at both their wit and impeccable timing. For as long as I’ve known them, the Kewleys have approached life with a charming twinkle in their eyes. Their contagious glee and Dick’s habitual bear hugs inspire confidence and good will in anyone lucky enough to stop by for a chat.

Turns out, we can thank Frank Ladky, Sue’s father, for harnessing all that fun and turning it into the respectable, but still joyous, Mr. and Mrs. Kewley.

“We dated until my father asked Dick to marry me,” Sue said.

“He got me in a corner and asked me what my intentions were,” Dick said. “The next thing I knew we were married.”

In the nearly 67 years since, the Kewleys have raised six kids, three boys and three girls. Dick and Sue are also the proud grandparents of 13, and great-grandparents of six.

Asked about their favorite memory, both mentioned the birth of their oldest child.

“When we had Kate, our first baby,” Sue said. “Little did we know…”

Devout Catholics, Dick and Sue raised their family with strong values and high standards of fellowship and fair play. For most of their married life, they lived on the edge of a golf course, the perfect spot for hijinx, with room for their athletic brood to roam. They supported each activity with enthusiasm and love.

These days all three sons live close by and stop in regularly to visit and lend a hand if needed. My friend Kelly, the Kewley’s middle daughter, drives in from her home in Oconomoc to take her mom for a round of golf, or both of her parents to dinner and the movies.

Though daughters Kate and Mary Jo live out of state, both keep close tabs on the family and the whole gang gets together at least once or twice a year.

Since they first met (but didn’t date) at Shorewood High School, both Dick and Sue have been the kind of guests who make every party more fun.

As for Ms. Ladky’s pervious Saturday night date? The one she set aside in favor of the dashing Dick Kewley?

“He was a slick dresser, but boring as heck,” she said.

Dick knew he was in when the elegant Susan Ladkey moved him from a Friday night date to Saturday. (Photo courtesy of Kelly Begler).
They’ve enjoyed a 66-year marriage full of love…(Photo courtesy Kelly Begler)
laughter…(Photo courtesy Kelly Begler)
and family. (Photo courtesy Kelly Begler)
Still toasting life at age 90, the Kewleys hardly look a day over 60. Amazing, I took this picture last Friday and it is unedited. This is how Dick and Sue Kewley look after nearly 67 years of marriage.

7 thoughts on “Raise a glass to laughter and abiding love

  1. I just discovered your blog yesterday and signed up to read more about Wisconsin and my hometown of Appleton (we moved when I was 12). Imagine my surprise, and just a little bit scary it was to see the Kewleys (they look wonderful), in your blog at O dark hundred this AM. Rich was in my older brother’s class, and a year behind me at MULS as well!

    If you wouldn’t mind, could you shoot me an email with your phone number? I have a couple of questions on some WI tourism based on some of your earlier posts.

    (I am overlooking the fact that you wore a Marquette Golden Eagles instead of vintage Warriors!)

    Thanks very much,

    Mary Dwyer Pembroke


  2. Thanks Laura! So fun to read your blog about two people I always admired too. Hello Mr. and Mrs. Kewley! Sending you lots of love.

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