By Kimberly Crossland, Owner of Cruisin’ + Campfires + The Focus-Driven Biz

You know the expression, when you know, you know? Those 5 words sum up the whirlwind romance that brought George and Patricia Soetaert together 68 years ago. Throughout their marriage, these two lovebirds experienced quite a bit before finally settling down in Corona de Tucson 24 years ago.

Their romance started in High School. They lived across the street from each other. George was a Senior and Patricia was a Junior. It only took a few months before they knew they were in love. Six short months later, George proposed to Patricia and she happily said yes, not knowing what the future would hold.

George’s family was planning to move away from their Texas home where the two met, back to Kansas, George’s home state. He knew he didn’t want to leave Patricia behind, so the two quickly got married. When Patricia graduated, they both moved to Kansas where George started working for an aircraft company. Soon after, in 1954, he joined the United States Air Force. His career took their family across the United States to Texas, Mississippi, California, North Dakota, and eventually Tucson.

Both Patricia and George loved the time he served our country, and count that decision as one of the best of their lives. During his time of service, the couple welcomed three children into their family — two boys and a girl. Today, the Soetaerts have four grandkids and three great-grandchildren.

A highlight to George’s career came when he shook hands with President John F. Kennedy at Vandenberg Air Force Base. The President was there to witness his first missile launch, and George was on the launch crew.

Eventually, George was stationed at Davis Monthan Air Force Base, which brought the couple to the greater Tucson area. Upon George’s retirement in 1978, he went to work for Lockheed Martin before permanently retiring in 1990 to become a full-time grandpa who played golf on the side. The two ended up in Corona de Tucson where they’ve lived for the last 24 years. Two of their three children also live close to them in Vail — Terry and Leslie — while their other son Tony lives in Hawaii.

Their whirlwind romance has led to a beautiful life together full of family, friends, and service. They’ve summed up their secret to making marriage work for over 68 years in one word — patience. Both of them work hard to give 100% to the marriage and in doing so, they’re able to each give their full share, making each of them equal halves.

Kimberly Crossland is a mom, a Vail resident, and owner of The Focus-Driven Biz.

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